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THE LIBRARY 
OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



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f^vT^nht i%¥>jrmf. W'nhD & Siyn T.^ 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS 

C. F. CLAY, Manager 

ILonUon: FETTER LANE, E.C. 

lEDmburgf): loo PRINCES STREET 




f.tbJ Iforl;: G. P. PUTNAI\rS SONS 

Bombag nnO (Tnlcuttn: MACMILI.AN AND Co., Ltd. 

eroronto: J. M. DENT AND SONS, Ltd- 

aroftfio: THE MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAISHA 



All rights reserved 



MERIONETHSHIRE 

by 
A. MORRIS, F. R. Hist. Soc. 



With Maps, Diagrams and Illustrations 



Cambridge : 

at the University Press 

i9f5 



First Edition 1913 
Pocket Edition 19 r 5 



Of) 

WHO 

f 

PREFACE 

THE author desires to acknowledge his indebtedness 
to various works in English and Welsh on the 
history and antiquities of Merionethshire, especially the 
articles of the late W. W. E. Wynne of Peniarth on 
the architecture of the most remarkable of the churches. 
His thanks are due to Mr Pryce Williams of Towyn for 
assistance rendered in the chapter on Fisheries and Fishing 
Stations^ and to Mr D. A. Jones of Harlech and the late 
Thomas Ruddy of the Pale Gardens for help in the 
preparation of the chapter on Natural History. 

A. MORRIS. 

October 1913. 



868464 



CONTENTS 



County and Shire — The name Merionethsliire. Its 
Origin and Meaning . 

General Characteristics 

Size. Shape. Boundaries 

Surface and General Features 

Watershed. Rivers 

Lakes .... 

Geology .... 

Natural History 

The Coast-line 

Climate .... 

People — Race, Dialect, and Population 

Agriculture — Main Cultivations, Woodlands, Stock 

Industries and Manufactures 

Fisheries and Fishing Stations 

History of Merionethshire 

History — Later Times 

Antiquities 

Architecture — {a) Ecclesiastical. Churchesand Abbeys 

Architecture — (b) Military. Castles 

Architecture — {c) Domestic. Famous Seats, Manor 
Houses, Farms, Cottages .... 

Communications — Past and Present . 

Administration and Divisions — Ancient and Modern 

The Roll of Honour of the County 

The Chief Towns and Villages of Merionethshire 



PAGE 



4 

8 

12 

17 

28 

37 
44 
51 
57 
66 
70 
78 
83 
91 
97 
106 

116 

•23 

130 

138 
145 

154 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



The Vale of Festiniog 

The Mawddacli, tVoni Panorama Walk 

Aberdovey 

Rhaiadr Cwiii, near Festiniog 

Cader Idris: the Summit from the Saddle 

The Bird Rock, Towyn . 

Barmouth : Diphwys 

Prysor Valley, Rhaiadr Ddu 

The River Artro at Llanbedr 

Llan fill angel-y-Pen nan t 

Bala Lake and Llanycil Church 

Talyllyn 

Cader Idris: the Precipice 

Towyn: the Dysynni 

Barmouth Estuary . 

Ynys Giftan . 

Menhirs, Llanbedr . 

Remains of Goidel Hut, near Harlech 

The Glaslyn River: Snowdon in tlie distance 

Oakeley Quarries, Blaenau Festiniog 

Splitting and dressing Slates, Blaenau Festiniog 

Rhaiadr IVIawddach and Gold Mine, Dolgelly 

The Beach, Llwyngwril ..... 

The Dwyryd River ..... 

The "Roman Steps," near Cwm Bychan 



Vlll 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



The Gateway, Harlech Castle 

Caer Drewyn, near Corwen 

Bronze dagger-knife found at Tomen-y- 

Centiirial Stones from Tonien-y-Mur 

Llanfor Church .... 

Llanaber Church . . , . 

Llanegryn Church .... 

Llanfair Church .... 

Cymmer Abbey .... 

Harlech Castle 

Ruins of the Keep, Bere Castle 

The Hengwrt . . . . • 

Plas Rhivvlas . , . ■ • 

Old Houses, Dolgelly 

Old Coach Bridge, Dinas Mawddwy 

Barmouth Bridge and Cader Idris . 

Dolgelly . 

Thomas Edward Ellis 

Tyn-y-Bryn 

Corwen . 

Diagrams 



Mur 





PAGE 




94 




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103 




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I 12 




114 




115 




119 




121 




124 




128 




129 




133 




137 




144 




146 




151 




157 




163 



MAPS 

Merionethshire, Topograpliical . . . Front Co'ver 

„ Geological .... Back Co'ver 

England and Wales, showing Annual Rainfall . . 53 

Sketch map showing the Cliief Castles of Wales and the 

Border Counties to face p. 116 



ILLUSTRATIONS ix 

The illustrations on pp. 5, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16, 20, 21, 22, 24, 
26, 33, 45, 47, 59, 72, 7 3, 75, 85, no, in, 119, 128, 129, 133, 
137, 144 and 157 are from photographs by Messrs F. Frith and 
Co.; those on pp. 61 and 103 from photographs by Mr D. H. 
Parrv, Harlech; tliose on pp. 121 and 151 from photographs by 
Messrs George and Son, Corris; those on pp. 112 and 114 from 
photographs by Mr W. M. Dodson, Bettws-y-Coed; that on p. 94 
from a photograpli by Dr Guillemard; that on p. 12 from a print 
published by Mr R. L. Jones, Machynlleth; that on p. 115 from 
a photograph by Mr Jones, Dolgelly; that on p. 124 from a 
photograph by Mr Arnfield, Dolgelly; that on p. 146 from a 
photograph kindly supplied by Mrs Ellis; those on pp. loi and 
102 are reproduced from Archaeologia Cambrensis and the Archaeo- 
logical Journal respectively; the sketch map facing p. 116 is from 
a drawing by Mr C. J. Evans. 



I. County and Shire. The name 
Merionethshire. Its Origin and 
Meaning. 

The division of Wales into shires first took place in 
the reign of Edward the First. Before the conquest of 
Wales by that monarch there was no division of the 
Principality into shire ground as understood in English 
annals. The Shire (i.e. the part s/jorn off, or cut off, from 
the Anglo-Saxon word scir) was a Saxon institution brought 
into use at an early period, as early as the seventh cen- 
tury. In the code of laws of Ina of Wessex, we find 
portions of the country under his rule divided into scir 
ground, and each division was placed under an officer 
who was styled a scir-gerefn, i.e. a shire-reeve or sheriff. 
He was the natural leader of the shire in war and peace. 
His duties were to look after the king's rights, dues and 
fines, and he acted as the sovereign's representative as 
regards finance and the execution of justice. 

County is a word of Norman origin [comte) which 
came into use in our country after the Conquest, when 
the administration of each shire was entrusted to a great 
earl or baron, who was often a count [comte]^ i.e. a com- 
panion of the king. 

M. M, I 



2 MERIONETHSHIRE 

The shiring of Wales was the direct outcome of the 
extension of English influence into our land. It took 
place upon two separate occasions, the first as stated above, 
and the second in the reign of Henry the Eighth. Con- 
sequently the shires of Wales do not stand in the same 
relation to the early history of the particular districts of 
which they are a share, as the real shires of England 
proper stand to old English history. They are really 
administrative districts formed for convenience, rather 
than organic divisions of land and people like Sussex and 
Kent, which correspond to original tribal kingdoms. Of 
the Welsh counties Anglesey's insular position gave it a 
unity and compactness of its own, but as regards the 
others, Cardiganshire alone in extent of territory and 
distinctive characteristics is in an analogous position to 
that of Sussex and Kent among English counties. It 
probably corresponded with the ancient principality of 
Ceredigion, and to this, perhaps, the strong local feeling 
and distinctive type of character still associated with 
that county are due. The other counties have, however, 
been built up of the immemorial territorial divisions 
(hundreds and commotes) of the Cymry. 

The county of Merioneth is one of the eight counties 
whicli came into existence by the Statute of Rhuddlan 
in 1284. The name, however, is of much earlier date as 
the name of a cantrev. In its Welsh form of Meirionydd 
we are taken back to a period some eight centuries 
earlier. 

The tradition is that about 420 a.d. Cunedda, a 
powerful British chief who held his court at Carlisle, was 



COUNTY AND SHIRE 3 

invited by his kindred, the Brythons, to come and assist 
them, as they were sore pressed by the Gwyddyl or 
Goidels from across the Irish Sea. In right of his mother, 
as we are told in the Welsh pedigrees, Cunedda was 
able to claim large tracts of territory in Wales. He 
therefore most readily responded to the appeal, and by 
the aid of his numerous sons succeeded in expelling 
the Goidels from the greater part of the territory. 
Cunedda's men, it is recorded, settled permanently in 
the land, and so did his sons, except the eldest, named 
Tybiawn, who had died some time before in Manaw 
Gododin, as the territory of the north was called. 

The names of the sons have survived in the territories 
which they wrested from the Gwyddyl. Ceredig occupied 
Ceredigion (Cardiganshire); Arwystl seized upon Arwystli, 
a part of Montgomeryshire; Edeyrn made his abode in 
Edeyrnion in our present county ; Einion possessed him- 
self of Caereinion in Montgomeryshire. The sons of 
Tybiawn were likewise granted their shares, in right of 
the eldest son. Maelor obtained Dyffryn Maelor, and 
Meirion possessed the territory called Cantrev Meirion, 
"the Hundred of Meirion," which in its turn gave its 
name to Meirionydd, and the county of Merioneth. 

By the Statute of Rhuddlan there were added to 
the cantrev of Meirionydd the commotes of Penllyn, 
Edeyrnion, and Ardudwy, and these together constituted 
the shire of Merioneth until the time of Henry VIII. 
When the Principality became ripe for its union with 
England in the time of the Welsh sovereigns, the Tudors, 
an "Act of Union " was passed, by which five new shires 

I — 2 



4 MERIONETHSHIRE 

were created from the Marcher lordships. This Act 
added to the county of Merioneth the lawless lordship of 
Mawddwy. 



2. General Characteristics. 

Merionethshire is a maritime county of North Wales, 
washed on its western side by Cardigan Bay, and bor- 
dered on the north, east, and south by the counties of 
Carnarvon, Denbigh, Montgomery, and Cardigan respec- 
tively. 

It is more mountainous than any of the North Wales 
covmties with the exception perhaps of Carnarvonshire. 
Its deep and secluded valleys, with the ruggedness and 
variety of its elevated districts, give it a particular charm 
and interest. The varied panoramic views from its 
heights surpass anything to be seen in Wales. 

Portions of the county, by the nature of its rocks, are 
devoted to the industry of slate-quarrying. The best 
slate in the world for roofing purposes is worked in 
various parts of the county, but mainly in the north. 
Ours, too, is the only county in Wales in which gold has 
been found in quantities sufficient to pay for working; 
but, in the main, Merionethshire is an agricultural and 
pastoral county, the great proportion of the people being 
devoted to husbandry. 

Merionethshire is one of the most Welsh in customs 
and habits of all the counties of Wales. Its people have 
not been influenced \.n the same extent as other Welsh 




o 



CO 



> 

x; 



6 MERIONETHSHIRE 

counties by the influx of the English wave. In the most 
numerous instances business and trade dealings are carried 
on in the vernacular, and the native inhabitants treasure 
their ancient language as the worthiest of their inherit- 
ances. 

The county has figured largely in the history of the 
Principality from the earliest times. Its remains of the 
prehistoric past form an interesting chapter in the story 
of our land. The Brythonic wave of our Celtic forebears 
pushed itself from the plains of England into Wales by 
way of large tracts in this county, and terminated like 
the point of a broad wedge at the mouth of the Dovey. 
From this fact has arisen the name of the Brythonic tribe 
in the second wave of Celtic migration, Tr Jrdyfiaid^ or 
as it was known to the Romans, the Ordov'ices. The 
Goidels and the Brythons have left traces of their occupa- 
tion in the vast number of tumuli, menhirs, stone circles, 
and cromlechs now seen in elevated situations in various 
parts of the county. 

The remains of Roman times are also very interesting. 
These comprise military roads, camps, and stations in all 
parts of the county. Other remains, such as coins, in- 
scribed stones, and Samian ware prove that Roman civili- 
sation held sway in secluded corners of this county as 
well as in the more accessible parts of England and the 
borders, while the ruins of castles and ecclesiastical 
buildings show it to have been a not unimportant 
territory in medieval times. 

Its rivers are famous all the world over for their 
incomparable scenery. The Dee, with its great inland 



GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS 7 

sheet of water snugly sheltered by the Arenigs and the 
Berwyns, has been more sung about and visited than most 
of the rivers of Cambria. The Maw^ddach with its broad 
tidal estuary and its numerous rushing contributory streams 
has noble scenery to show, and the district through which 
it flows is sometimes called the British Tyrol. Its lakes 
and waterfalls are equal in beauty to those in any part of 




The Mawddach, from Panorama Walk 

the kingdom, and are an unceasing source of attraction to 
hosts of sight-seers at all seasons of the year. The woody 
character ot its valleys and uplands make it a delightful 
land. No part of its surface can be said to be tame or 
monotonous. From every standpoint our county of 
Merioneth is one of the most charming and interesting 
of all the Welsh counties. 



8 MERIONETHSHIRE 



3. Size. Shape. Boundaries. 

Merionethshire is one of the largest counties of North 
Wales, comprising an area of 602 square miles with a super- 
ficial surface in the administrative county of 418,475 acres 
excluding water. Its water area totals 3897 acres. It 
occupies nearly one-twelfth of the whole area of Wales, 
and ranks as seventh in point of size of the twelve Welsh 
counties. In the geographical or ancient county area it 
would take rank as sixth in Wales. 

Its extreme length, from north-east to south-west, 
measured in a straight line drawn along the southern 
contour of the county from Berwyn on the Dee 
to Aberdovey on the Dovey estuary, is 46 miles. Its 
greatest breadth, measured from Llyn-y-Ddinas in the 
north, near the village of Beddgelert, to near Mallwyd 
on the borders of Montgomeryshire, is 29 miles. 

In shape, speaking generally, the county has the 
appearance of a scalene triangle, having its shorter side 
on the west where it faces Cardigan Bay. The base, its 
longest side, lies contiguous to Montgomeryshire for a 
length of 37 miles, with the remaining nine miles touch- 
ing Denbighshire. The apex of this triangle is at the 
west corner of Llyn-y-Ddinas, whilst the angles of the 
base are respectively at the village of Berwyn on the Dee 
and at Aberdovey. 

In a perambulation of the limits of the county it will 
be well to make our start at the apex of this irregular 
triangle. We shall be compelled to observe that, with the 



SIZE SHAPE BOUNDARIES 



9 



exception of the west side, our county is so circumscribed 
by high mountains that there are only a very few artificial 
boundaries necessary. Nature has fulfilled her part in 
an admirable manner ; she has supplied the county with 
natural boundaries in her high mountains, rivers, and 
sea. 

Leaving Llyn-y-Ddinas the boundary line takes us 
first to the top of the Glyders, high mountains forming 




Aberdovey 

an offshoot of the Snowdori group. Hence we proceed 
by an arc of a circle to the north of the steep and rugged 
Cynicht, until it encloses the slate district of Festiniog 
within its bounds. The circumference of this arc of a 
circle descends by Llyn-y-Dywarchen, a charming sheet 
of water, and leaves the limits of Carnarvonshire to enter 
those of Denbighshire. 



10 MERIONETHSHIRE 

We now follow it a little to the north of the moun- 
tain called Arenig Fach, from which it proceeds in a 
north-easterly direction across the elevated expanse of the 
Gylchedd, to ascend the ridge of Carnedd Filast and 
then drop into the valley of the upper course of the 
Alwen. It follows this little stream for about two miles 
until it approaches Cerrig-y-Drudion on the Denbigh- 
shire side of the boundary. The line of demarcation now 
takes a southerly course, and forms what may be called 
three-fourths of a circle to cross the Alwen again about 
two miles to the south of Bettws Gwerfil Goch. It 
assumes a northward direction a little to the west of this 
village, and reaches Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr. Here it 
proceeds eastward for four miles, and then by an artificial 
limit makes for the valley of the Clwyd, which it crosses 
at the village of Derwen. A mile beyond this north- 
eastern limit an artificial boundary again marks the line 
of demarcation on the eastern side until it arrives at the 
village of Berwyn on the Dee. 

From Berwyn our direction is now south-west by a 
zigzag course until we reach the summit of Moel Ferna 
in the Berwyn group. Proceeding along the length ot 
this chain of mountains for nearly ten miles we arrive at 
Cader Berwyn, and here we leave Denbighshire to beat 
the bounds of Montgomeryshire. The boundary line 
continues along the Berwyn chain as far as the pass 
of Bwlch-y-Groes. On our right is the valley of the 
Dee with Bala Lake in its course ; and on our left, in 
closer proximity to the mountains, is Lake Vyrnwy, the 
great artificial reservoir of the city of Liverpool. These 



SIZE SHAPE BOUNDARIES 11 

mountains separate the basin of the Dee from that of 
the Vyrnwy and the Severn. 

At Bwlch-y-Groes we cross the remarkable pass con- 
necting the two valleys. The scenery here is very wild 
and picturesque. We proceed for a few miles to the 
south and cross the summit of Carreg-y-big, leaving Llan- 
y-Mawddwy nestling in the valley below. Five miles 
further to the south we arrive at Nant Dugoed, where 
we cross the turnpike road from Llanfair Caereinion to 
Mallwyd, which is only five miles distant. Tiie line of 
demarcation, once more an artificial one, passes to the 
other side of the valley of the upper Dovey ; this river 
constituting the boundary between Mallwyd and the 
village of Aberangell. It then crosses the ridge separating 
the valley of the Dovey from that of its tributary, the 
Dulas. This latter stream in its course by Corris to 
Machynlleth, where it joins the Dovey, forms the boun- 
dary between our county and Montgomeryshire. 

From Machynlleth to the sea the Dovey is again the 
dividing line until we almost reach the estuary, when 
it leaves Montgomeryshire and has Cardiganshire as its 
neighbouring county to tlie south. 

On the west, from the estuary of the Dovey to the 
mouth of the Glaslyn river on the borders of Carnarvon- 
shire, Merionethshire is washed by the sea. For the 
remainder of the western limits of the county the Glaslyn 
is the dividing line. It comes from Llyn-y-Ddinas and 
proceeds by Beddgelert through the gorge of Aberglaslyn, 
then by a sinuous course across the reclaimed Morfa it 
finds its way to the sea at Traeth Mawr. 



12 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



By this perambulation of the county across its rugged 
and broken peaks it will have been realised how difficult 
it would be to find a district so hemmed in by mountains 
as our county of Merioneth. This circumscribed character 
of the land has made for the striking and distinguishing 
characteristics of its people, and this influence must have 
been exerted with tenfold force in the days before railways 
and excellent roads opened out the interior. 



aSl^r™:'''ivw,fWi!L:isns^^^mfaK M^'^o-rtfS^'.Wrta?^ 



S- 



-g ^f 




Rhaiadr Cwm, near Febliuiog 
(From an old print by T. Radclyffe, after a pain tin, s; by David Cox) 



4. Surface and General Features. 

As we have seen in our last chapter Merionethshire is 
an exceedingly mountainous county. In some respects it 
may be said that of all the Welsh counties it is the most 
diversified, for mountains and hills occur more universally 
than in the other counties. The only lowland territory 



SURFACE AND GENERAL FEATURES 13 

apart from its deep valleys is the narrow strip along the 
coast between the Ardudwy mountains and the sea. Its 
elevations are not as high as those of the neighbouring 
county of Carnarvon, but many of its peaks are very fine. 
They abound in bare precipitous cliffs and rugged heights 
and the slopes of many of them are streams of sliding 
fragments of wrecks of stone. 




Cader Idris : the Summit from the Saddle 



No isolated and solitary peak of the Welsh mountains 
shows such a wreck of stone as Cader Idris. With an 
elevation of 2927 feet above the sea-level, it marks the 
starting point from which a long chain of primitive moun- 
tains extends in a north-east direction to the Berwyns 



14 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



and on to the borders of Shropshire. This chain has a 
fine array of towering heights. The Aran Mawddwy is 
higher than the Gader, and reaches an altitude of 
2970 feet ; and there are others, such as Aran Benllyn, 
2901 feet, which closely approximate the Gader. 

Cader Idris throws ofip spurs to the south-west which 




The Bird Rock, Towyn 



gradually decline in elevation the further we proceed, 
until we arrive at the estuary of the Dovey. A feature 
of one of these ridges is the Craig Aderyn — the curious 
"bird-rock" as it is called, which is the home of countless 
sea-fowl. It lifts its bold and isolated head some six or 
seven hundred feet above the banks of the Dysynni river. 



SURFACE AND GENERAL FEATURES 15 

A little to the north-east on the slope of another hill of 
this ridge are the ruined remains of Castell-y-Bere, a 
famous old medieval fortress, while on the opposite hill 
across the valley of the Dysynni is the reputed cave 
refuge of the great Cymric hero, Ow^ain Glyndwr. 

Proceeding southw^ards in the direction of Aberdovey 
we have Trum-tair-taren, Moel-y-Geifr, and Trum Gelli, 
which run on to the ridge known as Mynydd Bychan ; 
and still further south we come to Mynydd-y-Llyn, 
having Llyn Barfog, a charming little lake, nestling at 
its base. 

The impressive Berwyn chain, occupying the south- 
east border of the county and forming the southern 
watershed of the river Dee, forms a remarkable contrast 
to the bareness of the Gader group by the richness of its 
vegetation, especially on the Deeside slopes. Some of its 
heights very nearly approximate the altitude of Cader 
Idris and the two Arans. The chief are Cader Fronwen 
2575 feet, Cader Berwyn 2716 feet, Moel Ferna 2070 
feet, Moel-y-Geifr 2055 feet, and Moel-y-Cerrig-duon 
2050 feet. 

Nine miles to the north-east of Dolgelly the range of 
the Gader throws off a spur to the north to join the 
Arenigs. This spur forms the dividing watershed of the 
Dee and the Mawddach. The country here is wild and 
secluded, and has remains of carneddau and tumuli in 
abundance. 

The Arenig series of mountains occupies the whole 
of the north of the county. The most remarkable heights 
are the Arenig Fawr with its double-headed ridge, 2800 



16 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



feet, Moelwyn Mawr 2527 feet, Cynicht 2763 feet, 
Arenig Fach 2250 feet, and Carnedd Filast 2197 feet. 

Extending from the valley of the Mawddach to that 
of Maentwrog, and running nearly parallel to the coast, 
we have the interesting group know^n as the Llechw^edd 
chain, or mountains of Ardudv^^y, vv^hich run up from 
Barmouth and terminate in the Diphwys at a height of 




Barmouth : Diphwys 

2467 feet. Beyond this rises Craig-y-Cau 2063 feet, 
the Llethar 2475 feet, Rhinog Fach 2300 feet, and 
Rhinog Fawr 2362 feet. 

The famous Roman road know^n as the [^ia Occi- 
dentalis or the Sarn Helen traversed these mountains. 
Betw^een the Rhinog Y^^NX and Llyn Cwm Bychan 
there are what are usually called the Roman Steps. It is 



SURFACE AND GENERAL FEATURES 17 

surmised that these steps were made by the Roman soldiers 
to facilitate the conveyance of the ores from the mines. 
The sides of these mountains seem to have been rent 
asunder by some mighty convulsion into a thousand pre- 
cipices, forming at their tops rows of shelves which the 
native-folk compare to sills of dovecotes, and call Cerrig 
Colomenod, i.e. " Rocks of the doves." The scenery of 
this extraordinary pass and that of Bwlch Drws Ardudwy, 
for its wild character and its ruins of stone, rivals in its 
way anything to be seen in the Alps, and the views 
from the summits of the mountains are magnificent. 
The panoramic view overlooking Barmouth and the 
Mawddach estuary, and the "Precipice Walk" of the 
Upper Mawddach gorge on the slopes of Moel Cynwch, 
near the ancient domain of Nannau, are especially striking. 
Moel Offrwm, "the Mountain of Sacrifice," is close by, 
and to the north of Llanfachreth in the same district 
stands Rhobell Fawr, 2409 feet, a solitary eminence. 

5. Watershed. Rivers. 

The chief watershed of the county is the high ridge 
dividing Merionethshire into east and west, referred to in 
the previous chapter. The fall of the east drains into the 
Dee and its tributaries, whilst that of the west forms the 
streams which flow into Cardigan Bay. The most im- 
portant rivers are the Dee, the Mawddach, the Dovey, 
the Dysynni, the Dwyryd, and the Glaslyn. 

The Dee, the principal river of North Wales, rises 
by a small streamlet in the Dduallt at an elevation of 

M. M. 2 



18 MERIONETHSHIRE 

2000 feet above the sea-level, and about four miles to the 
west of Bala Lake. The Great Western railroad from 
Dolgelly, after its ascent to Drws-y-nant near Aran 
Benllyn on the highest ridge of the wild watershed, 
follows in its descent to Llanuwchllyn the course of the 
infant Dyfrdwy, as the Dee is called in the vernacular. 
The Dyfrdwy before entering the lake receives on the 
right the Twrch from Aran Benllyn, and on the left 
the Lliw from Moel Llyfnant, which washes the base of 
the slope where the remains of Carn Dochan Castle stand. 

The three streams meet at the little village of 
Llanuwchllyn, and the united waters enter Bala Lake, 
or Llyn Tegid, the largest natural lake in the whole of 
Wales. At the eastern end of the lake stands the little 
town of Bala, and here the Dee leaves the lake and 
receives the Tryweryn, a tributary rising in the Arenig 
Fach, which rushes down a strong clear stream, through 
charming scenes, to pass through the wooded gorges of 
Rhiwlas with its fine old mansion. The waters of the 
Tryweryn and Dee unite in the flat meadows below 
the lake. 

The Dee now wends its way for twelve miles through 
the sweet Vale of Edeyrnion, a broad and noble river. In 
times of heavy rain it is a sheet of seething foam rushing 
over beds of broken boulders, but in summer days a placid 
waterway like a broad band of silver. Its course leads 
through the woody glades of the villages of Llandderfel 
and Llandrillo. On our right we pass the famous battle- 
ground of Crogen on the summit above, and on our left 
is the mouth of the Alwen, a tributary stream from the 



WATERSHED RIVERS 19 

Denbighshire border. We now come to the well-wooded 
enclosures ot Rug, where in the twelfth century, 
GrufFydd ap Cynan, King ot Gwynedd, was entrapped, 
and to Corwen, an old-world market town, tucked under 
the dark shoulders of the mountains. Caer Drewyn is on 
the left bank, a famous encampment in ancient times. 
After leaving LlansantfFraid Glyndyfrdwy the river passes 
the village of Berwyn, and there leaves the county to 
continue its course through Denbighshire. 

Between Llansantffraid bridge and Llan2;ollen in the 
month of April, when the spring trout-fishing is at its 
best, we may see the old-world coracle used for fishing. 
The Dee is the only river in North Wales where this 
survival of the ancient Britons is still put to practical 
and common use. 

The Mawddach has its rise in the same central water- 
shed as the Dee. It comes from the spur known as 
Craig-y-Ddinas, and then descends through Cwm Allt- 
Iwyd into one of the most lo\ ely glens of picturesque 
Wales. Before receiving the Afon Gain, which flows 
from the upper reaches of the central watershed, the main 
stream has passed the Gwynfynydd gold mine, which 
yielded considerable quantities of the valuable ore in years 
gone by. The famous Pistyll-y-Cain waterfall is at this 
spot. Here also may be seen Rhaiadr-y-Mawddach, and 
about a mile above Ty'n-y-Groes another cataract called 
Y Rhaiadr Ddu, situated near the confluence of the 
Camlan with the Mawddach. 

The Mawddach is joined at the Ganllwyd by the Afon 
Eden from Craig Ddrwg in the Ardudwy mountains. The 

2—2 



20 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



main stream then takes a straight course to Llanelltyd, 
and passes the ruins of Cymmer Abbey on its left bank, 
before it receives the Afon Wnion from Drws-y-Nant 
Uchat. The course of the Wnion for the greater part 
of its length to Dolgelly is in a deep chasm of serrated 




Prysor Valley, Rhaiadr Ddu 



rocks. It receives the Clywedog two miles above Dol- 
gelly, which is famed for the rushing cataracts of the 
" Torrent Walk." 

At Llanelltyd the Mawddach becomes a tidal river, 
the tide flowing up to the bridge near the village. Upon 
its approach to Penmaenpool the river gradually widens 



WATERSHED RIVERS 



21 



into a broad waterway. At Bontddu on the right bank 
is the Ciogau gold mine, which is systematically worked 
at the present time. 

The mountains of Ardudwy are drained by the Afon 
Artro which rises in Llyn Cwmbychan near the Roman 
Steps. It flows swiftly over a rocky bed, hidden at times 
by dense woods, until it arri\es at Llanbedr. Before 




reaching the latter villao-e the Artro receives the Nant 
Col from the gorge of Bwlch Drws Ardudwy. The 
united waters find their way to the sea at the northern 
end of Mochras Island. 

The Dwyryd, which enters the sea at the Traeth 
Bach, havino; flowed throu2;h the beautiful vale of Fes- 
tiniog, is formed, as the name implies, by the union of two 



22 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



streams. These are the Goidol and Tegwel, which first 
unite and are afterwards joined by the Cynfael. The 
Goidol drains Llyn Cwmorthin to the north of Tany- 
grisiau, whilst the Tegwel comes from Carreg-y-Fran to 
the east of Llyn-y-Manod. Before these streams unite 
at Rhyd-y-Sarn, the Tegwel has passed by Beddau Gwyr 
Ardudwy — ''the graves of the men of Ardudwy " — with 




Llanfihangel-y- Pennant 



Llyn-y-Morwynion a little to the south. A little below 
Rhyd-y-Sarn the Cynfael flows in, and from the con- 
fluence the united streams are called the Dwyryd. In 
the bed of the ri\er here arises the singular isolated 
column of rock known as " Hugh Llwyd's pulpit," The 
Dwyryd continues its course through a beautiful valley 
by the little village of Maentwrog. About a mile below 
Maentwrog it receives the Afon Prysor, which rises in 



WATERSHED RIVERS 23 

the Graig Wen, an elevation to the east of the Roman 
station of Tomen-y-Mur, and flows by Trawsfynydd in 
a most circuitous course. 

The Dovey rises in Craiglyn Dyfi on the eastern de- 
ch'vity of Aran Mawddwy, It flows by Llan-y-Mawddwy, 
Dinas Mawddwy, and Mallwyd, and is fed by numerous 
contributary streams, the Dulas, the Llefeni, the Geryst, 
the Clywedog, and the Pennal, and flows for twelve miles 
of its course through Montgomeryshire. 

The Dysynni rises in the southern declivities of Cader 
Idris and flows through Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, a small 
village in a beautiful situation, then by Castell-y-Bere and 
Craig Aderyn to skirt the shady glades of Peniarth and 
the little village of Llanegryn. It enters the sea about 
two miles to the north of Towyn. 

6. Lakes. 

The lakes of Merionethshire are of exceedingly great 
interest on account of their situation, their beauty, and 
the wealth of folk-lore connected with them. First 
and foremost we have Bala Lake, or Llyn Tegid, lying 
between the Berwyn chain and the Arenigs. Then 
come the remarkable series known as the Cader Idris 
group, surrounding the base of that mountain. Next to 
these come those of the Ardudwy mountains, small in 
size but charming in situation. And finally we have 
those of the Festiniog district, numerous and rich in 
traditionary lore. 

Bala Lake in the valley of the upper waters of the 



24 



MERI0NP]TH8HIRE 



Dee, the largest sheet of natural fresh water in Wales, is 
1084 acres in extent, but it has now been exceeded in 
size by the artificially constructed Vyrnwy reservoir on 
the other side of the Berwyns, which has an area of 1 121 
acres. Its length is about three miles, with a breadth in 
the widest part of nearly one mile. 

The lake, like so many of the Welsh lakes, is not 




"^mt^'v^- 



Bala Lake and Llanycil Church 



devoid of a legend as to its origin, though it is too long to 
give here. Its Welsh name, Llyn Tegid, takes us back 
to a remote past. Tegid Foel is said to have been the 
husband of Ceridwen, the traditional mother of Taliesin, 
the seer, and his dominion comprised the territory in 
which the lake is situated, though according to the legend 
it was not in his time that the lake was formed, 



LAKES 25 

The lakes of the Cader Idris group are Talyllyn, Cae, 
Tri Graienyn, Aran, Gader, Gafr, Gwernan, Wylfa, and 
Creigenen. The largest of these is the Talyllyn lake at 
the southern foot of the mountain. It is sometimes 
known as the Mwyngil, i.e. " the' Peaceful Retreat," a 
very appropriate name for this beautiful and secluded 
stretch of water, which is about two miles long and half 
a mile broad. Verdant meadows and sequestered home- 
steads surround it, whilst the rugged grandeur of Cader 
Idris towers above. The Dysynni river drains it, having 
its outlet at the eastern end. Llyn-y-Cae is in a chasm of 
the mountain above Talyllyn and is best seen from the 
summit of the Gader. Llyn-y-Tri Graienyn, the "Lake 
of the Three Pebbles," is situated at the side of the road 
from Corris to Dolgelly. The pebbles — three huge boul- 
ders weighing many tons — according to the legend, were 
shaken out of the shoe of the giant Idris. On the north- 
east side is Llyn Aran, drained b)^ the stream of the 
same name, which flows through the town of Dolgelly to 
join the Wnion. Llyn-y-Gader lies at the foot of the 
Fox's Path, which leads to the summit of Cader Idris. It 
is sheltered by high precipitous cliffs. Within a distance 
of half a mile is Llyn Gafr, called by this name because 
ot the large herds of goats which grazed its banks in 
former times. On the side of the road from Dolgelly to 
Cader Idris is Llyn Gwernan, a beautifully clear lake, 
but in summer filled with sedge and vegetable growth. 
Llyn Creigenen lies on the elevated ridge above Arthog. 
Its waters help to form the beautiful falls of that place. 

In the Ganllwyd neighbourhood on the northern side 




c 



LAKES 27 

of the Mawddach estuary is Llyn Cynwch. This is near 
the old mansion of Nannau, and is the reservoir supplying 
Dolgelly with water. 

We now turn to the lakes of the Ardudwy country, 
among which is Llyn Cwmbychan, at the foot of the 
ridge known as Graig Ddrwg. It is a small though 
charming sheet of water within a walk of Harlech. To 
the north are Llyn-yr-Eiddew Mawr and Eiddew Bach ; 
these are drained by the Artro. Llynau Tecwyn Uchaf 
and Isaf lie in the mountains between Talsarnau and 
Trawsfynydd ; surrounding them is a marvellous wreck 
of stones in which some archaeologists claim to find traces 
of "a hitherto unknown British town." Coming south- 
wards into the valley of the Ysgethin, and at the foot of 
the Llawllech chain, we ha\e three lovely lakes named 
the Bodlyn, L'ddyn, and Dulyn. Across the Diphwys is 
Llyn Cwm Mynach, the water of which is carried down 
to Bontddu by the Afon Mynach. There are many more 
of these small lakes in this district, some of which are Llyn 
Du, Llyn-y-Fedw, Llyn Pryfed, and Llyn Dywarchen. 

In the Festiniog district there are several beautiful 
sheets of water, some of which are of considerable 
size. The best known are Llyn-y-Morwynion, Y Dy- 
warchen, Y Manod, Bowydd, Conglog, Cwmorthin, 
Llynlilyn, Llynau-y-Gamallt, Llyn Newydd, Y Garn, 
Tryweryn, Arenig Fawr, and Arenig Fach. Of these 
the most famous is Llyn-y-Morwynion — "Maidens' 
Lake," — because of the legend connected with it, which 
in Welsh lake-lore is as famous as that of. the Sabine 
women in classic story. 



28 MERIONETHSHIRE 



7. Geology. 

The term rock in Geology is used without reference 
to the hardness or compactness of the material. The 
hardest rock, as well as the softest, crumbles into sand 
and dust by exposure to the atmosphere, and geologists 
speak of loose soil, layers of sand, pebble, or clay by the 
same term as they do of slate, limestone, or granite. 

Rocks are divided roughly into two classes, (i) those 
laid down mostly under water, called sedimentary or aqueous^ 
(2) the eruptive or igneous^ i.e. those due to fire and volcanic 
action. 

The first kind may be compared to sheets of paper lying 
one over the other. These sheets are called bedi^ and are 
usually formed of sand (often containing pebbles), mud 
or clay, and limestone, or mixtures of these materials. 
They are laid down as flat or nearly flat sheets, but may 
afterwards be tilted as the result of movement of the 
earth's crust, just as we may tilt sheets of paper, folding 
them into arches and troughs, by pressing them at either 
end. Again, we may find the tops of the folds so pro- 
duced worn away as the result of the action of rivers, 
glaciers, and sea-waves upon them, just as we might cut 
off the tops of the folds of the paper with a pair of shears. 

The eruptive or igneous rocks have been melted under 
the action of heat and become solid on cooling. When 
in the molten state they have been poured out at the 
surface as the lava of volcanoes, or have been forced into 
other rocks and cooled in the cracks and other places of 



GEOLOGY 29 

weakness. Much material is also thrown out of volcanoes 
as \'olcanic ash and dust, and is piled up on the sides of 
the volcano. Such ashy material may be arranged in 
beds, so that it partakes to some extent of the character 
of the first of the two great rock groups. 

The relations of such beds are of great importance to 
geologists, for by them we can classify the rocks according 
to age. If we take two sheets of paper, and lay one on 
the top of the other on a table, the upper one has been 
laid down after the other. Similarly with two beds, the 
upper is also the newer, and the newer will remain on 
the top after earth-movements, save in very exceptional 
cases which need not be regarded here. For general 
purposes we may look upon any bed or set of beds resting 
on any other in our own country as being the newer bed 
or set. 

The movements which affect beds may occur at 
different times. A set of beds may be laid down flat, 
then thrown into folds by movement, the tops of the 
beds worn off, and another series of beds laid down upon 
the worn surface of the older beds, the edges of which 
will abut against the oldest of the new set of flatly de- 
posited beds, which latter may in turn undergo disturbance 
and renewal of their upper portions. 

Again, after the formation of the beds many changes 
may occur in them. They may become hardened, pebble 
beds being changed into conglomerates, sand into sand- 
stones, mud and clay into mudstones and shales, soft 
deposits of lime into limestone, and loose volcanic ashes 
into exceedingly hard rocks. They may also become 



30 MERIONETHSHIRE 

cracked, and the cracks are often very regular, running 
in two directions at right angles one to the other. Such 
cracks are known as joints^ and the joints are very im- 
portant in affecting the physical geography of a district. 
Then, as the result of great pressure applied sideways, the 
rocks may be so changed that they can be split into thin 
slabs, which usually, though not necessarily, split along 
planes standing at high angles to the horizontal. Rocks 
affected in this way are known as slates. 

If we could flatten out all the beds of Eno-land and 
Wales, and arrange them one over the other and bore a 
shaft through them, we should see them on the sides of 
the shaft, the newest appearing at the top and the oldest 
at the bottom, as in the annexed table. Such a shaft 
would have a depth of between io,ooo and 20,000 feet. 
The strata beds are divided into three great groups called 
Primary or Palaeozoic, Secondary or Mesozoic, and Ter- 
tiary or Cainozoic, and the lowest of the Primary rocks 
are the oldest rocks of Britain, and form as it were the 
foundation stones on which the other rocks rest. These 
are termed the Pre-Cambrian rocks. The three great 
groups are divided into minor divisions known as Systems. 
The names of these Systems are arranged in order in the 
table, and the general characters of each System are also 
stated. 

With these introductory remarks we may now pro- 
ceed to a brief account of the geology of the county. 

Merionethshire in its geological formation belongs to 
the oldest series of rocks classified in our table. In it 
there are examples of the Pre-Cambrian, or as they are 



Names o* 
Systems 



Recent 
Pleistocene 



Pliocene 
Miocene 
Eocene 

L 
r 

Cretaceous 



Jurassic 



Triassic 



Permian 



Carboniferous 



Devonian 



2 < Silurian 



Ordovician 



Cambrian 



Pre -Cambrian 



Subdivisions 

Metal Age Deposits 
Neolithic ,, 

Palaeolithic „ 
Glacial „ 

Cromer Series 

Weybourne Crag 

Chillesford and Norwich Crags 

Red and Walton Crags 

Coralline Crag 

Absent from Britain 

Fluviomarine Beds of Hampshire 

Bagshot Beds 

London Clay 

Oldhaven Beds, Woolwich and Reading 

Thanet Sands [Groups 

Chalk 

Upper Greensand and Gault 
Lower Greensand 
Weald Clay 
^ Hastings Sands 

Purbeck Beds 

Portland Beds 

Kimmeridge Clay 

Corallian Beds 

Oxford Clay and Kellaways Rock 

Cornbrash 

Forest Marble 

Great Oolite with Stonesfield Slate 

Inferior Oolite 

Lias — Upper, Middle, and Lower 

Rhaetic 
Keuper Marls 
Keuper Sandstone 
Upper Bunter Sandstone 
Bunter Pebble Beds 
Lower Bunter Sandstone 

Magnesian Limestone and Sandstone 

Marl Slate 

Lower Permian Sandstone 

Coal Measures 
Millstone Grit 
Mountain Limestone 
Basal Carboniferous Rocks 



Characters of Rocks 



Superficial Depo!>its 



Sands chiefly 



Gays and Sands chiefly 



Chalk at top 
Sandstones, Mud and 
Clays below 



Shales, Sandstones and 
Oolitic Limestones 



Upper ) 
Mid [ 
Lower ) 



Devonian and Old Red Sand- 
stone 



Ludlow Beds 
Wenlock Beds 
Llandovery Beds 

Caradoc Beds 
Llandeilo Beds 
Arenig Beds 

Tremadoc Slates 

Lingula Flags 

Menevian Beds 

Harlech Grits and Llanberis Slates 

No definite classification yet made 



Red Sandstones and 
Marls, Gypsum and Salt 



Red Sandstones and 
Magnesian Limestone 

Sandstones, Shales and 
Coals at top 
Sandstones in middle 
Limestone and Shales below 

Red Sandstones, 
Shales, Slates and Lime- 
stones 

Sandstones, Shales and 
Thin Limestones 

Shales, Slates, 
Sandstones and 
Thin Limestones 

Slates and 
Sandstones 



Sandstones, 
Slates and 
Volcanic Rocks 



32 MERIONETHSHIRE 

sometimes called, the Archaean, which in the mam con- 
sist of igneous or eruptive rocks. These are found 
stretching intermittently from Cader Idris to the two 
Arans, then, with a break in the Mawddach and Wnion 
valleys, we find them in the mountains of Ardudwy, from 
which they continue northwards to Festiniog. They 
take in by the way the Rhobell Fawr and the Arenigs. 

The Rhobell Fawr is the most striking example of 
igneous rock to be seen. It has been formed by volcanic 
action upon some great primeval sea bottom long long 
ages ago, measured by tens of thousands of years. In its 
outline it shows the most extensive mass of ancient lava 
in the Principality, and this is surrounded tor miles by 
hundreds of smaller examples which were once united, 
but have been cut off by denudation and other agencies. 
Cader Idris belongs to a similar series with this difference, 
that the summit is formed by a pinnacle of what geologists 
call trap rock, beneath and around which the vertical cliffs 
and precipices of ash range themselves. 

It must not, however, be supposed that these mountains 
themselves are in any sense extinct volcanoes. The deep 
cwms overhung by the precipices with their streams of 
loose stone, are no spent craters. They are the result 
of great volcanic action which took place at the bottom 
of the sea when the whole country was under some great 
ocean in remote ages. Geologists assume that when this 
enormous mass of complicated rock made its first appear- 
ance above the water in which it had been formed, it 
must have presented to the eye a fairly uniform and level 
tableland. But after its emergence from its aqueous 




Cader Idris : the Precipice 



M. M. 



34 MERIONETHSHIRE 

birthplace, the streams of water, rain, frost and other 
atmospheric agents acted upon it in course of time, and 
began to carve the country into the shape and form it 
now presents. 

The softer rocks would of course become worn down 
much quicker than the harder, and the latter would in 
consequence ultimately become the superior heights of 
the county. In places where the softer sedimentary 
stratified beds enter into the composition of the surface, 
the hills are on the whole smooth and more uniform in 
shape. But where the country shows a great predominance 
of igneous rocks, the hills are loftier, more serrated, and 
bolder in their outline. 

From near Barmouth through the Vale of Ardudwy 
to the basin of the lower Dwyryd, and also in the con- 
trary direction from the Mawddach estuary to that of 
the Dysynni, we find the rocks belong to the Cambrian 
System. The southern part of the county from the 
Dovey to near the Dysynni, and again along the western 
slopes of the Berwyns as far as Bala, and also the north 
of the county, belongs to the Ordovician System. The 
eastern part of the county is mainly composed of rocks 
belonging to the Silurian System. 

The Cambrian formation of rocks as seen in Dyffryn 
Ardudwy consists of the following strata or beds, (i) Har- 
lech Grits, (2) Menevian beds, (3) Lingula Flags, and 
(4) Tremadoc Slates. 

The Harlech Dome, as it is called by geologists, is 
a large, irregularly-oval tract lying between Barmouth 
and Harlech, or it may be more correctly said between 



GEOLOGY 35 

Dolgelly and Harlech and ranging northward to Maen- 
twrog. It is occupied by unfossiliferous grits, and purple 
and green slates. It holds a very important place in the 
physical features of North Wales, being the site of the 
great Merionethshire anticlinal, in which the rocks dip 
in opposite directions like the roof of a house. On the 
flanks of these sloping rocks the fossiliferous flags and 
grits of the Lower Cambrian series are observed to rest. 

The Lingula Flags are divided into three groups, called 
respectively the Maentwrog, the Festiniog, and the Dol- 
gelly groups. The first is distinguished by its jointed 
dark-blue ferruginous slates ; the second by hard mica- 
ceous flags ; and the third, or the Dolgelly group, by 
the soft black slate which shows a black streak when 
scratched. 

The range between the rivers Eden and the Mawddach 
in the neighbourhood of Dolmelynllyn has always been 
famous for its fossils. 

Next above the Cambrian we have the Ordovician 
formation, which consists of the following strata — the 
Arenig beds, the Llandilo beds, and the Bala or Caradoc 
beds. This last series occupies the largest area in North 
Wales. It spreads by numerous undulations around the 
towns of Bala and Corwen ; it forms the main construc- 
tion of the Arenigs, the Arans, the Gader group, and the 
Berwyns; and in it we have the Festiniog, Corris, Aber- 
gynolwyn, and Aberllefenni slate-quarries. 

The Silurian formation is seen to stretch from near 
Bala to the eastern bounds of the county. The special 
feature and interest of this formation to the native of 



36 MERIOXETHSHIRE 

Merionethshire is that the term "Bala beds" is given to 
certain rocks found all over Wales, because they are best 
developed in the strata from Dinas Mawddwy by Bala 
to Bettws-y-Coed. The Berw^yn mountains as far as the 
borders of Shropshire contain a special limestone known 
as "Bala Limestone." It is, however, not of good quality, 
and is not employed for building purposes, though very 
useful for road-makino-. 

It is a well-known and interesting fact that the largest 
" fault " in the British Isles cuts through the middle of 
Bala Lake from south-west to north-east. This large 
fault, which rent asunder the rocks, occurred far back in 
geological time, disturbing the rocks along its course, 
and consequently facilitated the action of denuding agents 
on the beds of softer material. 

The origin of Bala Lake is considered by geologists 
to be the work of glacial action. Professor Ramsay says 
that the greater part of the Silurian region on either side 
of the lake and of the Dee stood high above the level of 
the sea from remote geological times, and probably formed 
a wide tableland extending far to the south, and also to 
the east and north-east. On its edaies rose the more 
mountainous expanse formed by volcanic rocks, splendid 
relics of which still remain in the peaks of Cader Idris, 
the Arans, and the Arenigs. 

When the Dee began to flow in its earliest channel, 
it is clear that its present source, Bala Lake, had no 
existence. The river at that time must have flowed over 
a surface of land not less high than that on either side of 
the present valley near Corwen and Llangollen. The 



GEOLOGY 37 

surface of Bala Lake is only 690 feet above the sea-level, 
while the neighbouring watershed between the lake and 
Dolgelly is only 200 feet higher. As the river could not 
flow uphill, it is clear that in that early stage of its history 
the valley of the Dee about Bala must have been at least 
1300 to 1400 feet higher than it is now, and consisted of 
a mass of Silurian rocks, a great part of which has been 
since removed by denudation. 

8. Natural History. 

It is a recognised fact in Natural History that the 
ancestors of most of our flora and fauna arrived in the 
British Isles when our country formed part of the main- 
land of the continent of Europe, and when there was no 
intervening sea to prevent easy communication. Our 
mountains and hills abound in proofs both of a former 
continental and a subsequent glacial age. Before all the 
various species of European animals had arrived here 
communication with the continent became cut off. The 
land of the north-western districts of Europe became 
isolated by the submergence of low-lying plains, and the 
North Sea, the English Channel, and the Irish Sea were 
formed, causing the influx of animal life to be stopped. 
This is the reason, we are told, why there are more than 
twice as many kinds of land animals in Germany as there 
are in England and Wales, and nearly twice as many in 
England as there are in Ireland. 

Some of the animals which came from the continent 
into Britain in the distant past have ages ago died out, 



38 MERIONETHSHIRE 

either because the climate changed and so cut off their 
food supply, or because they were destroyed by the hunters 
of the Stone Age or later times. From the finds made in 
the Caegwyn caves near Tremeirchion, we learn that the 
mammoth and woolly-haired rhinoceros lived here, and 
from the bones found in other parts it is evident that 
the cave lion, cave bear, bison, reindeer, hyaena, and 
Irish elk were common animals. The old Welsh Triads 
tell us that the first settlers of Britain found it fvill of 
E'lrth a Bkidd'iau^ Efe'inc ac ychain bannog^ " bears and 
wolves, beavers (or crocodiles — the word has been variously 
translated) and horned oxen." This may perhaps appear 
an exaggeration, but the truth revealed by the cave finds 
is beyond controversy. 

Although there are many more species of beasts and 
birds on the continent of Europe than we have in Britain, 
yet both birds and beasts are numerically much more 
common here. One reason for this is that we do not 
shoot or trap for food small birds of every description, 
as is the custom in many European countries. Game- 
preserving also, although it has lessened or extirpated the 
larger birds of prey, such as kites and buzzards, and keeps 
down other species such as jays, magpies, and carrion 
crows, provides protection for great numbers of the 
smaller birds, which are safe from harm during the 
breeding; season. 

When the glacial condition of our land passed away, 
wherever plants could grow we may be sure they were 
only those which could endure the cold. But when 
warmer climatal changes gradually ensued, such as to 



NATURAL HISTORY 39 

bring about the present state of things, the Arctic flora 
left the lower grounds but retained their hold on the 
cold flanks and summits of the higher mountains. 

The mountains of Merioneth in general are over 
2000 feet in height and consequently afford suitable 
habitats for a rich Alpine flora. The vertical precipices 
of volcanic ash on Cader Idris, and the greenstone on 
Rhobell Fawr, Rhinog Fawr, and Moelwyns are par- 
ticularly rich in interesting flora, among which may 
be found various Saxifrages, rose root {Sedum Rhodiola\ 
mountain sorrel [Oxyria rentforniis\ hairy rock-cress 
[Arabis hirsuta\ hairy genista (G. pUo$a\ Welsh poppy 
[Meconopih cambrka)^ northern galium (G. boreale\ bird 
cherry [Prunus Padus\ bald-money [Meutn athamanticum) 
and melancholy thistle [Carduus heterophyllus\ whilst 
the berry-bearing plants and heaths are very plentiful, 
comprising the crowberry, cowberry, cranberry, and 
cloudberry [Rubus Cham<£moriis)^ the last being especially 
abundant on the Berwyns at Cader Fronwen and called 
by the English "knotberry," but by the Welsh "mwyar 
y Berwyn." 

The numerous deep, shady, and secluded glens ot the 
county are very rich in scarce plants, and not less so in 
mosses and other cryptogams. The littoral also, with its 
salt marshes and sand dunes, produces a number of inter- 
esting species. In the salt marshes may be found the 
marsh samphire or glass-wort {Salkornia)^ the tassel-grass 
[Ruppia)^ sea-blite {Suada ?nar'itima)^ sea-milkwort [Glaux 
tnaritima)^ marsh and sea arrow-grass [Triglochin]^ sea 
convolvulus (6\ SoldaneIla\ now becoming difficult to find 



40 MERIONETHSHIRE 

where once it was plentiful, and the very pretty purple 
sea lavender [Stotice Llmonium)^ also now only to be found 
sparingly. Among the sand-dunes occur some rare 
rushes, such as yuiicus tnarittnms and yuncus acutus ; the 
sea spurge [Euphorbia Paralias) is plentiful, and on the 
level grassy spots may be seen the exquisite ladies' tresses 
{Spiranthes aiitumnalh\ maiden pink [Diantlms deltoidei\ 
common Teesdalia, 'fleabane, whorled Solomon's seal 
{Polygonatutn verticiUatum\ annual knawel [Sclcranthus]^ 
and the evening primrose [Oenothera hiennh). 

In the bogs and wet places we have the marsh 
St John's-wort [Hxpoicitm elodes)^ the sweet-scented white 
orchis and frog orchis [Hahoiai-'ia alh'ida and H. viridis\ 
the ivy-leaved campanula, marsh Andromeda, wild balsam 
[Impatiens NoH-f?ie-tangere\ floating water-plantain [Alhma 
Plantago)^ both long and round-leaved sundews, hemp agri- 
mony [Eupatoria Cannahina\ yellow flag iris, gipsy-wort 
[Lycopus Europ<^us\ bog myrtle, celery-leaved crowfoot [Ra- 
nunculus Scelcratus)^ and the great spearwort [R. Lingua)^ an 
uncommon plant. The marshy lands in July are white 
with the cotton-grass, two kinds especially — Eriophorutn 
vaginatum and latifolium. The willow-leaved spiraea forms 
hedges in wet places and the common spiraea known as 
meadow-sweet grows abundantly in the damp meadows. 
The railway embankments show a number of plants that 
are not natives, among which are red campions and 
scarlet poppies, whilst the American cress [Barbarea 
praccox\ probably a garden escape, is found wild on 
the roadsides in some places together with the stately 
tree-mallow [Lavatera arborea). 



NATURAL HISTORY 41 

Ferns are characteristic of Merionethshire. Sheltered 
crevices of the rocks, shady dells, extensive moors, and 
wM uplands have all their typical species and in many 
instances of a rare kind. The parsley fern [Cryptogramme 
crispa\ a lover of rocky habitats, is to be found in many 
places. The beech fern [Polypodium Phegopteris) is to be 
found in secluded hollows, and the oak fern (P. Dryopteris) 
is plentiful in several parts. Magnificent specimens of 
the broad fern grow in boggy places. In old walls 
may be seen the hay-scented fern [Lastraea Foeniseci'i) 
growing in dense clusters, and in inaccessible faces of 
rocks Aiplenium lanceolatum flourishes. Others observable 
are the little filmv ferns Hymemphyllum^ Tunbrldgense and 
W'lhoni^ which are the tiniest and most delicate-looking of 
all British ferns, the green spleenwort [Asplenium viride), 
and the exceedingly rare forked-spleenwort {J. septentrio- 
nale) so much sought after by old-time herbalists. The 
Osmunda^ which used to crown the banks of many a little 
stream, has become exceedingly rare through the rapacity 
of fern-sellers and tourists. There are also the sea fern, 
adder's tongue, holly fern [Asp'idiiim Lonchlth\ and prickly 
shield fern (//. aculeatuni). 

Turning to the wild animal life of the county we 
know from the names of some of its river-fords that the 
beaver in ancient times had its favourite haunts in some 
of our valleys, and there still survive the place names of 
the retreats of the bear and the wolf. The otter is 
plentiful, and so are the fox, badger, stoat, weasel, 
squirrel, hedgehog, rabbit, and hare. The polecat is 
sometimes seen, but the marten is now extinct, the last 



42 MERIONETHSHIRE 

two being killed twenty years ago, the one at Dolgelly 
and the other at Corwen. 

Merionethshire being a county of high mountains, 
steep crags, extensive moors, and deep secluded valleys, 
its list of birds is both varied and interesting. The salient 
feature, however, is that not many species found here can 
be accounted as native in the fullest sense, though many 
which have regularly made the county their home during 
the breeding season may be classed as residents. The 
summer and winter migrants are very numerous. 

The raven is common ; four or five of them may 
frequently be seen hunting together over the grouse moors 
in search of sickly and wounded birds. The merlin has 
its favourite haunts on the Berwyns, and the peregrine 
falcon breeds on the rugged and sheer cliffs of the Arans. 
Sparrow-hawks and kestrels are common. The tawny 
and barn owls are to be found commonly, but the long- 
eared owl has become scarce. The wood-pigeon is 
abundant and does much mischief to root-crops and 
standing corn. The sheldrake is a resident of the lower 
Mawddach, and here too, when the tide is out, may be 
seen cormorants, plovers, and sandpipers of various kinds, 
black-headed, kittiwake, and common gulls, oyster-catchers, 
herons, and many other estuary-loving birds. The curlew 
and golden plover leave the seaside in March to breed on 
the moors, where the red grouse makes its home in great 
numbers. The finest o-rouse moors in Wales surround 
Bala Lake. The black grouse has become scarce, but it 
is occasionally seen on the Berwyns. 

The more familiar woodland and hedge birds call for 



NATURAL HISTORY 43 

no special remark. The nuthatch, once very rare, is 
becoming more common. The stonechat is seldom seen 
but the whnichat is a common summer visitant. The 
green and greater-spotted woodpeckers and the wryneck 
are to be heard in all the woods, and the corncrake with 
its harsh notes greets one in the meadows and long grass. 
The swampy districts during the nesting season are visited 
by the reed and sedge warblers, grasshopper warbler, reed 
bunting, Ray's wagtail, water rail, and other birds of like 
habitat. 

Among the winter visitants is the bittern, which 
frequents the salt marshes of the coast ; and the wild 
swan or hooper, which visits Bala Lake and some of the 
moorland pools of Llandderfel. The grey phalarope is 
frequently seen in the \ale of Edeyrnion, and sometimes 
on the Upper Dee above Bala Lake. Flocks of bramblings 
regularly visit the county in winter ; the}' come about 
the end of October and leave for their northern home in 
February and March. Sometimes, too, the twite or 
mountain linnet comes here as early as September and 
leaves as late as April. The green sandpiper and grey 
plover are regular visitors. After a heavy fall of snow 
it is not uncommon to see great flocks of skylarks passing 
over the Berwyns, to feed, most probably, on the estuary 
and tidal waters of the Dee. The spotted crake during 
its passage north and south is occasionally seen in the 
coast region. Coot and dabchick frequent Bala Lake in 
large numbers. 



44 MERIONETHSHIRE 

Q. The Coast=line. 

The coast-line of Merionethshire is washed throughout 
its whole extent by the waters of Cardigan Bay. It 
extends from the mouth of the Glaslyn on the borders 
of Carnarvonshire to the mouth of the Dovey on the 
borders of Montgomeryshire and Cardiganshire. At all 
times the bay has the appearance of a lonely untravelled 
sea, for sailors as a rule give it a wide berth. The dis- 
tance, measured in a direct line as the crow flies from the 
Glaslyn to the Dovey, does not exceed 30 miles, yet the 
numerous windings of the foreshore, and the deep estuaries 
of the Traeth Mawr, Traeth Bach, the Mawddach, the 
Dysynni, and the Dovey, give the county a length ot 
coast-line exceeding 75 miles. 

The coast presents features of a varied character, and 
is interesting throughout its entire length owing to the 
great contrasts of its background of mountains, which 
skirt it at various distances. Some closely hem in its 
foreshore, whilst others are set back by a broad belt of 
low-lying stretches of sand and undulating sand-dunes. 
The traditions and folklore of ancient times have much 
to say of the devastation of the sea, and the submergence 
of immense tracts. The proximity of the high mountains 
would naturally lead a stranger to expect that the coast 
would have been of a rock-bound character, but the 
contrary is the case except in some rare instances. 

Starting at the estuary of the Dovey we may observe 
how the mountain ridges closely iiem the shore at short 



THE COASTLINE 



45 



intervals, yet the foreshore is one broad belt of sand and 
sand-dunes from Aberdovey as far as the mouth of the 
Dysynni. The town of Aberdovey is set back on the 
slopes of the high ridge. Similarly the little watering- 
place of Towyn, a fashionable resort, stands on the rising 
ground at some considerable distance from the foreshore. 
To the north of Towyn is situated what is familiarly called 




Towyn: the Dysynni 



Morfa Towyn, i.e. "Towyn Marsh." Formerly this 
was an undrained and swampy stretch of lowland of over 
300 acres, frequently overflowed by the sea. But the 
owners of the Ynys-y-maengwyn estates reclaimed the 
whole area, and though in close proximity to the sandy 
beach it now forms a rich alluvial tract of agricultural 
land. 



46 MERIONETHSHIRE 

After crossing the estuary of the Dysynni, which 
brings down the waters of the Talyllyn lake through 
a valley rich in historical lore, we pass to a shore of a 
pebbly character. At Llangelynin on the elevated land 
we have a long stretch of apparently flat and level ground. 
This is one of the few districts in the county which is 
not of a hilly nature. It is called Gwastad Meirionydd 
— "The Plain of Merioneth." Upon nearing Llwyn- 
gwril, a charming little village with an ancient camp 
close by, we find the cliffs and boulders approximating the 
shore. As the Mawddach estuary is approached we pass 
a marshy level with sedges, rushes, and rank grass, close 
to the shore, and only separated from it by the constructed 
ridge over which the Cambrian railway runs. This is 
known as Morfa Arthog. Surrounding the Morfa the 
mountains come to an abrupt termination, their high 
cliffs and receding spurs directing the attention to Cader 
Idris in the background. The landscape here is peculiarly 
attractive, mountain and sea coming into such close prox- 
imity. The Fairbourne foreshore is a charming stretch 
of sand and pebble, and the bold and rugged Arthog cliffs 
are beautifully clothed with foliage and trees. 

The estuary of the Mawddach is crossed by a remark- 
ably fine trestle bridge of timber, half a mile in length, 
over which the railway passes. This also forms a gang- 
way for pedestrians, and is in reality the promenade pier 
of Barmouth, stretching for half a mile over the "aber." 
The view inland is one of the finest in Wales, with Cader 
Idris to the right, Diphwys to the left, the estuary below, 
and the Arans beyond. At the Barmouth end, where the 




3 
tn 



CQ 



48 MERIONETHSHIRE 

course of the river lies, the bridge is of iron, and is lifted by 
machinery when a vessel passes under, but the rest of the 
structure is of timber and must have denuded a pretty 
extensive woodland to make, for more of it is buried than 
exposed. Commanding the entrance to the estuary we 
have the small island known as Ynys Brawd — " The 
Island of the Brother" — traditionally the abode of a hermit 
in ancient days. This natural breakwater, strengthened 
by artificial work, protects the harbour, in which small 
boats find a shelter. 

The foreshore at Barmouth affords a good stretch of 
sandy beach and the town rises in terrace fashion up the 
steep slope of the ridge commanding the northern bank 
of the estuary. Leaving Barmouth and proceeding 
northwards by Llanaber, Egryn Abbey, and Llanddwywe 
into the Dyffryn district, we pass a wet and marshy coast 
which gives place to accumulations of blown sand rising 
into immense dunes, upon which rank grass finds luxuriant 
growth. This part of the coast is known as Morfa Dyffryn. 

Opposite Llanbedr, at the mouth of the River Artro, 
lies the island of Mochras, famed for its shells, from which 
the Sarn Badrig, " St Patrick's Causeway " — a reef of 
submerged rock — stretches into the sea for a long distance. 
We pass northwards by Harlech, and observe the magni- 
ficent Edwardian castle towering defiantly on the summit 
of the steep rock a good half mile from the seashore. 
In former times, not far remote, the sea undoubtedly 
washed the base of the castle-rock. Now it is separated 
from it by a wide belt of level fields, banked at the fore- 
shore by an immense barrier of sand-hills which remind 



THE COAST-LINE 



49 



us of the coasts of Holland. In these sand-hillb, rank 
grass, rushes, and small bushy shrubs grow in abundance, 
so that the otherwise shifting sands are kept in bounds. 
Proceeding round the bend of Morfa Harlech with its 
famous golf links and racecourse, and passing the pro- 
montory known as Harlech Point, we enter the treacherous 
inlet of the Traeth Bach, the outlet of the Dwyryd river. 



^sa^'-' 



L'^JWc. 




Ynys Giftan 



Here the ever-shifting sand makes navigation to Penrhyn- 
deudraeth most dangerous, and only very small craft 
attempt the channel. Much of the land on the southern 
side of Traeth Bach, as at Harlech, has been reclaimed 
from the ravaijes of the sea. 

Skirting the northern coast of the Traeth Bach we 
come to the demesne lands of Castell Deudraeth, a 

M. M. 4 



50 MERIONETHSHIRE 

comparatively modern mansion, and by Minffordd pass the 
little island called Ynys Giftan. Having rounded Penrhyn 
point we are in the Traeth Mawr, into which the Glaslyn 
flows. The sea does not now overflow the wide expanse 
of ten thousand acres which lies in the valley of the 
Glaslyn as it did a hundred years ago. This was all 
reclaimed in the early part of the last century, at a cost 
of over a hundred thousand pounds, by Mr Madocks, who 
barred out the sea by a huge dyke. In the making of 
the dyke he had as his friend and companion the poet 
Shelley, who came to live in the neighbourhood. 

The popular traditions of the Merioneth coast tell us 
of an extensive tract of rich country having been sub- 
merged one stormy night by the sea. This territory is 
known in old Welsh records as Cantrev-y-Gwaelod — 
" the Lowland Hundred." There are various versions 
of the calamitous flood, the one found in a poem of the 
" Black Book of Carmarthen " being perhaps the earliest 
extant. The "Welsh Triads" of the Myfyrian Archaeo- 
logy also refer to it as one of the three chief disasters 
of Britain. The version which has made it popular to 
English readers is that of Thomas Love Peacock, in his 
story, The Misfortunes of Elphin. 

Gwyddno was King of Ceredigion (Cardigan), and 
his most fruitful and valuable possession is said to have 
been the Lowland Hundred, which was protected by an 
immense sea wall. Sarn Badrig, before referred to, was 
part of it ; so was Sarn-y-Bwch — " the causeway of the 
hart" — extending from the Dysynni in the direction of 
the Sarn Badrig. Remains of these are still to be seen 



. THE COAST-LINE 51 

at low water. The Hundred is said to have contained 
many towns, among which was Forth Gwyddno, one of 
the privileged ports of the Isle of Britain. The tradition 
is further perpetuated in the well-known old Welsh air 
" The Bells of Aberdovey." 



lo. Climate. 

By the climate of a district is meant the average 
weather experienced by that country or district. It 
comprises its rainfall, temperature, hours of sunshine, 
and humidity of the air. These depend upon various 
conditions, among which the most important is geo- 
graphical position ; that is, in the first place, the latitude, 
or the distance of the country from the equator, and in 
the second place, its distance from the sea and its height 
above sea-level. We have also to consider the nature or 
character of its soil and vegetation. 

Speaking generally, the nearer a country is to the 
equator the hotter will be its climate, and the nearer it 
is to the sea coast the more equable will it be. The 
highest temperature in the shade ever yet recorded was 
in the Sahara at a spot within the tropics, where the 
thermometer registered 127 Fahr.; and the lowest or 
the greatest cold ever experienced was at a place in 
Siberia, where the thermometer is said to have registered 
90° Fahr. below zero. 

The climate of our country as a whole is very much 
affected by the Gulf Stream and the winds that aid it and 

4—2 



52 MERIONETHSHIRE . 

its " drift." The prevailing winds of our land blow from 
the west and south-west, and come laden with moisture. 
These winds meet with elevated land-tracts directly they 
reach the western shores, such as the moorlands of Corn- 
wall and Devon, the Welsh mountains, including those 
which extend from Cader Idris to the spurs of the Snowdon 
group in this county, and the fells of Cumberland and 
Westmorland. As soon as the winds touch these barriers 
they part with their moisture and it descends in abundant 
rain. This is seen by referring to the accompanying map 
of the annual rainfall in England and Wales. It will 
be noticed that the heaviest rainfall occurs in the west, 
and that it decreases with remarkable regularity towards 
the east, until the least rainfall occurs on the eastern 
shores of England. 

The rainfall along the line of our Merionethshire 
mountains is about the largest in the whole of England 
and Wales. Upon the higher mountain groups of the 
Arenigs and the contiguous Snowdon group the average 
rainfall is as high as lOO inches per annum. This is an 
enormous amount, but it has been exceeded on many 
occasions in individual years. Thus at Llyn-Llydaw, 
in the Snowdon district in 1908, no less than 237 inches 
were registered. 

The heaviest rainfall in England and Wales in the 
year 1908 was at Glaslyn in this district, where as much 
as 176*6 inches were measured, while in the quarry 
district of Festiniog the rainfall was 81 inches. To take 
other parts of the county, the average at Brithdir, near 
Dolgelly, was 66 inches ; at Llandderfel to the east of 



ENGLAND & WALES 

ANNUAL RAINFALL 

Statute Miles 



O 20 W 60 so 




GtOSOt PHIUPl SON L',» 



[The figures gi^ve the approximate annual rainjall in inches.) 



54 MERIONETHSHIRE 

Bala Lake it was 47 inches ; whilst at Riig Gardens near 
Corwen, still further east, it was only 35 inches. In the 
eastern and south-eastern counties of England the rainfall 
did not exceed an average of more than 25 inches, whilst 
at Shoeburyness in Essex the lowest rainfall in the whole 
country was registered, being only 14*57 inches. It will 
thus be seen that the high ridges of Merionethshire and of 
the west generally may very appropriately be likened to 
a great umbrella, sheltering in a large measure the parts 
of the country to the east from the heavy and continuous 
rains. The months with the least rain in Merionethshire 
as a rule are June and July, with an average rainfall of 
2*83 inches. The wettest months are November and 
December, with an average of 4*25 inches. 

There is an important society in London called the 
Royal Meteorological Society which collects from all 
parts of the country particulars of the rainfall, the tem- 
perature of the air, the hours of sunshine, and the direction 
of the winds. The newspapers day by day give a summary 
of these particulars, so that we are able to see at a glance 
by means of a chart or map exactly what kind of weather 
has been experienced during the past 24 hours in all parts 
of the British Isles. At the end of the year these results 
are totalled and averaged, and from these we are in a 
position to compare and contrast the character of the 
climate at various places. 

In 1908 the mean temperature of England was 48*9° 
Fahr.,and of Wales 49*2° Fahr., whilst that of Merioneth- 
shire was 47*2° Fahr. Thus it will be seen that Merion- 
ethshire was below the average for both England and 



CLIMATE 55 

Wales. The month in that year with the highest mean 
temperature was July with 59" i° Fahr., and the lowest 
was January with 38'4° Fahr. 

The annual total of hours of bright sunshine in 
Merionethshire obviously varies from year to year. The 
sun is above the horizon in England and Wales for more 
than 4450 hours in the year, but separate districts never 
have the same number of hours of sunshine. No district 
in the whole of the country is favoured with sunshine 
for half the number of hours that the sun is above 
the horizon. The coast regions of Merionethshire as a 
rule enjoy more bright sunshine than do districts inland. 
Bright sunshine was recorded at Greenwich Observatory 
in 1908 for 1406 hours, and in various places in the south 
of England there was bright sunshine for nearly 2000 
hours. But the average total number of hours of bright 
sunshine in England was 1498, and in Wales 1497, whilst 
in Merionethshire it was only 1485 hours. The sunniest 
months in Wales during the year are generally May 
and June, with an average for the last ten years of 202 
hours of bright sunshine, and the month with the least 
sunshine generally is December, which has an average 
for the last ten years of 35 hours. 

Sometimes it is found that places in the same county, 
and situated not far distant from one another, have a 
marked difference in climate. Configuration of the land 
and general aspect have much to do in producing this 
contrast. A hill-slope facing south receives the sun's 
rays more directly than does a slope facing north. Con- 
sequently we find the southern aspect is more sunny and 



56 MERIONETHSHIRE 

genial than the northern aspect. It may sometimes be 
noticed after a heavy fall of snow in winter-time that the 
snow remains longer on the northern slope of the Berwyns 
than it does on the southern slope. Similarly in the 
narrow glen of the Wnion, the slopes of the left bank, 
which face the north, retain the snow in winter for a 
longer period than do the slopes of the right bank, which 
face the south. 

The climate of Barmouth, owing to its sheltered 
position, is well known to be more equable and warm 
than that of places not far distant which are built on a 
contrary slope. Barmouth is completely protected from 
the cold north breezes and dry easterly winds by the 
high ridge upon the slope of wliich it has been built. It 
makes an agreeable winter resort, as do other places on 
this coast like Towyn and Aberdovey. One well-known 
author has said of Barmouth that it combines the climate 
of the Mediterranean with the scenery of Switzerland, 
which is true in a measure. The proof of this is borne 
out by the number of tender shrubs which flourish out of 
doors throughout the long winter. Among these we have 
hydrangeas, fuchsias, magnolias, and myrtles, which are 
frequently seen in the roadside cottage gardens of the 
peasantry outside the towns. 

Humid as the climate is in general, yet the air is very 
healthful and invigorating. Owing to the low mean 
temperature snow remains on the tops of the highest 
mountains, especially on the Berwyns and in the 
sheltered crevices of the rocks, for many months at a 
Stretch, Yet the duration of life of the inhabitants 



CLIMATE 57 

of Merionethshire compares favourably with that of the 
other rural counties of Wales. A very large percentage 
are recorded to have exceeded the ordinary span of human 
life, and there are a few who even reach or approximate 
a century of years. 

II. People — Race, Dialect, and Popula= 
tion. 

We have no written record of the history of our land 
before the time of the Roman invasion in B.C. 55, but 
we know that Man inhabited it for ages before this date. 
The art of writing being then unknown, the people of 
those days could leave us no account of their lives and 
occupations, and hence we term these times the Prehistoric 
period. But other things besides books can tell a story, 
and there has survived from their time a vast quantity of 
objects (which are daily being revealed by the plough of 
the farmer or the spade of the antiquary), such as the 
weapons and domestic implements they used, the huts 
and tombs and monuments they built, and the bones of 
the animals they lived on, which enable us to get a fairly 
accurate idea of the life of those days. 

So infinitely remote are the times in which the earliest 
forerunners of our race flourished, that scientists have not 
ventured to date either their advent or how long each 
division in which they have arranged them lasted. It must 
therefore be understood that these divisions or Ages — of 
which we are now going to speak — have been adopted for 
convenience sake rather than with any aim at accuracy. 



58 MERIONETHSHIRE 

The periods have been named from the material of 
which the weapons and implements were at that time 
fashioned — the Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age ; the 
Neolithic or Later Stone Age ; the Bronze Age ; and 
the Iron Age. But just as we find stone axes in use at 
the present day among savage tribes in remote islands, so 
it must be remembered the weapons of one material were 
often in use in the next Age, and possibly even in a later 
one ; that the Ages, in short, overlapped. 

Let us now examine these periods more closely. 
First, the Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age. Man was now 
in his most primitive condition. He probably did not till 
the land or cultivate any kind of plant or keep any 
domestic animals. He lived on wild plants and roots and 
such wild animals as he could kill, the reindeer being then 
abundant in this country. He was largely a cave-dweller 
and probably used skins exclusively for clothing. He 
erected no monuments to his dead and built no huts. He 
could, however, shape flint implements with very great 
dexterity, though he had as yet not learnt either to grind 
or polish them. There is still some difference of opinion 
among authorities, but most agree that, though this may 
not have been the case in other countries, there was in 
our own land a vast gap of time between the people of 
this and the succeeding period. Palaeolithic man, who 
inhabited either scantily or not at all the parts north of 
England and made his chief home in the more southern 
districts, disappeared altogether from the country, which 
was later re-peopled by Neolithic man. 

Neolithic man was in every way in a much more 



PEOPLE— RACE, DIALECT, POPULATION 59 

advanced state of civilisation than his precursor. He 
tilled the land, bred stock, wore garments, built huts, 
made rude pottery, and erected remarkable monuments. 
He had, nevertheless, not yet discovered the use of the 
metals, and his implements and weapons were still made 
of stone or bone, though the former were often beautifully 
shaped and polished. 




Menhirs, Llanbedr 

Between the Later Stone Age and the Bronze Ase 
there was no gap, the one merging imperceptibly into the 
other. The discovery of the method of smelting the ores 
of copper and tin, and of mixing them, was doubtless a 
slow affair, and the bronze weapons must have been ages 
in supplanting those of stone, for lack of intercommuni- 
cation at that time presented enormous difficulties to the 



60 MERIONETHSHIRE 

spread of knowledge. Bronze Age man, in addition to 
fashioning beautiful weapons and implements, made good 
pottery, and buried his dead in circular barrows. 

In due course of time man learnt how to smelt the 
ores of iron, and the Age of Bronze passed slowly into 
the Iron Age, which brings us into the period of written 
history, for the Romans found the inhabitants of Britain 
using implements of iron. 

We may now pause for a moment to consider who 
these people were who inhabited our land in these far-ofiF 
ages. Of Palaeolithic man we can say nothing. His 
successors, the people of the Later Stone Age, are believed 
to have been largely of Iberian stock ; people, that is, from 
south-western Europe, who brought with them their 
knowledge of such primitive arts and crafts as were then 
discovered. How long they remained in undisturbed 
possession of our land we do not know, but they were 
later conquered or driven westward by a very different 
race of Celtic origin — the Goidels or Gaels, a tall, light- 
haired people, workers in bronze, whose descendants and 
language are to be found to-day in many parts of 
Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. Another Celtic 
people poured into the country about the fourth century 

B.C. the Brythons or Britons, who in turn dispossessed 

the Gael, at all events so far as England and Wales are 
concerned. The Brythons were the first users of iron in 
our country. 

The Romans, who first reached our shores in B.C. 55, 
held the land till about a.d. 410 ; but in spite of the 
length of their domination they do not seem to have left 



PEOPLE— RACE, DIALECT, POPULATION 61 

much mark on the people. After their departure, treading 
close on their heels, came the Saxons, Jutes, and Angles. 
But with these and with the incursions of the Danes and 
Irish we have left the uncertain region of the Prehistoric 
Age for the surer ground of Histpry. 

Although there may not be definite proof of Palaeo- 
lithic man inhabiting the remote mountainous districts of 




Remains of Goidel Hut, near Harlech 

this county, yet we have sufficient evidence that Neolithic 
man resided in many of the constituent districts which 
have gone to make up the county of Merioneth, for many 
highly polished and elaborately finished stone instruments, 
together with flakes and splinters of flint, have been found 
in and around ancient settlements, as well as in association 
with interments. 



62 MERIONETHSHIRE 

Their dead they buried in a crouching attitude in a 
cave or in a constructed stone chamber encased by an 
earthen mound or cairn. Probably the remains of 
cromlechs and stone circles, as seen in the Vale of 
Ardudwy, are the work of these people. 

The survival of this Iberian race is to be seen in the 
Welsh language of our own time, in the sequence of the 
words in a sentence. In Welsh the place of the verb is 
before its subject, as Darllennodd Owen y Llyfr — " Owen 
read the book." Another survival is the relative position 
of the adjective and noun, the former following the noun 
it qualifies or limits, as T'y mawr — " a large house " ; 
Bachgen da — " a good boy." Philologists tell us that 
all languages of the Aryan stock except Welsh and its 
cognate languages have their nouns, verbs, and adjectives 
in a different order, as we have them in the English 
language of to-day. 

In the fourth century before Christ, as already stated, 
the second wave of the Celts, called the Brythons, made 
their appearance in our country and settled here. They 
gradually won from the Goidels the plain districts of the 
land, and pushed themselves into Wales by way of Shrop- 
shire and the southern parts of Cheshire and Denbighshire, 
so that by the time of the Roman conquest the tribe 
known as the Ordovices came into possession of the 
greater part of our present Merionethshire as far as the 
Dovey. It is rather difficult to define with precision the 
progress made in civilisation by these early peoples before 
the coming of the Romans. There are not even many 
survivals of Roman culture in Merionethshire. So we 



PEOPLE— RACE, DIALECT, POPULATION 6.S 

have to look to other counties for the best and most 
definite evidences. We learn from old writers that the 
Brythons lived in wattled huts daubed with mud and 
clay. They cultivated the soil and sowed corn. They 
possessed domestic animals such as the ox, goat, sheep, 
pig, horse, dog, and even fowls. They ground their 
corn in querns or small hand-mills, and made excellent 
pottery. 

When we come to the Roman occupation we find 
military or hill stations in the county, on the lines of 
the roads leading from and to England and South Wales, 
which prove a complete conquest. But the mountainous 
character of the land was a great hindrance to Roman 
civilisation and culture as we see it in more favourably 
situated districts of the Principality. Merionethshire does 
not contain any remains of villas built in the rural parts 
away from the military stations, such as are found in 
other parts of the country. Perhaps the stationing of 
two very important legions at Chester and at Caerleon 
on the Usk is a strong proof of the insecure occupation 
of the mountains of the west. We have, notwithstanding, 
sufficient proof that the Romans held a firm hold of this 
territory for the purpose of working the mines of gold 
in the Mawddach valley and the copper mines of the 
Ardudwy country. In these workings there is no doubt 
that native labour was employed. The Brythons, contrary 
to other conquered nations, seem to have preserved their 
native language. In all other countries the Latin speech 
superseded the native, and the latter gradually died out of 
existence. This is observed particularly when we come 



64 MERIONETHSHIRE 

down to medieval times. In the countries of the con- 
tinent where the Romans held sway for a long period of 
years the languages spoken were Romance sprung from 
the Latin ; but the contrary was the case in Wales, 
Cornwall, and Strathclyde. 

The influence of the Romans upon the Brythons is 
noticeable in the loan words from Latin which have 
entered into the composition of the Welsh speech. 
This is seen in such words of a military character as 
saeth (arrow), mur (wall), ffos (trench), castell (castle), 
pont (bridge), pabell (tent). In the matter of building 
houses the Brythons copied the Roman style, and we 
have such loan words as ffenestr (window), pared (parti- 
tion), ystafell (chamber), colofn (pillar), and trawst (beam). 
Things used in the house which were new to the 
Brythons have provided also our Welsh vocabulary with 
cyllell (knife), dysgl (dish), cradell (gridiron), phiol (bowl), 
canwyll (candle), lleitheg (couch), and cadair (chair), as 
well as many others. 

The influences of Saxon times were only trivial, and 
were not felt to any appreciable extent in this remote 
territory, notwithstanding the fact that the formidable 
Mercian kingdom was on the border. Neither did the 
Normans exert the same influence here as we find they 
did in the sister county of Montgomery. The people 
remained for all practical purposes a free, independent, 
and unmixed race until the conquest of Wales by Edward 
the First, when its present chief component parts were 
incorporated into a county or shire. 

The people, Welsh in speech and sentiment, speak 



PEOPLE— RACE, DIALECT, POPULATIOX 65 

the Gwyneddian dialect of the Welsh language, which 
differs much from the Gwentian and Demetian dialects 
of South Wales. It has even many points of difference 
from the Powysian dialect of the neighbouring county of 
Montgomery. The native inhabitants seem to have been 
less subject to influence by the English-speaking peoples 
of the midlands of England than those of Montgomery- 
shire, or even than those of parts of Denbighshire, for they 
retain their Welsh characteristics and love of old Celtic 
traditions more markedly perhaps than any county in 
Wales. 

The population of Merionethshire at the present time is 
not as large as that of most other counties of North Wales; 
in fact, with the exception of Montgomeryshire, it is the 
most sparsely peopled county of the northern half of the 
Principality. When the last census was taken in 191 1 
there were 45,565 persons in tlie a(lministrati\'e county, 
or 69 to the square mile. This is a decrease of 3287 
from the census of 1901, main!)' to be accounted for in 
the Festiniog and Corris quarry districts by the recent 
depression in the slate trade. There has, however, been 
a great increase in the last hundred years, for in 1801 
the population only reached 29,506. This increase has 
mainly taken place in the slate-quarrying and mining 
neighbourhoods, and in the watering places of the coast 
at Barmouth, Towyn, and Aberdovey. 

The census of 191 1 shows that there were more 
females in the county than males. The former numbered 
23,763 while the latter were 21,802. These lived in 
11,183 inhabited houses, of which 4051 were houses of 

u. M. 5 



66 MERIONETHSHIRE 

less than five rooms. The main occupation of the people 
appears to be agriculture, in which 4561 males and 574 
females are engaged. The men and boys engaged in 
the quarries number 3895, and those engaged in the 
copper and gold mines 479. In the building and 
constructive trades there vv^ere 1207. The Welsh flannel 
factories at present employ less than a hundred hands. 

It is interesting to observe that in the census of 1901 
(the last figures available on this point) the number of 
native-born folk of the county enumerated in other 
places in the British Isles exceeded the population to 
the extent of 5650. Of the 48,852 enumerated in the 
county of the ages of three years and upwards, 23,081 
were monoglot Welshmen ; 19,674 were bilingual, 
speaking both English and Welsh ; while 2825 spoke 
English only. 



12. Agriculture — Main Cultivations, 
Woodlands, Stock. 

The mountainous character of the county interferes 
considerably with cultivation. The valley districts, 
however, are generally fertile, and praiseworthy eflForts 
have been made to improve the quality of the soil. 
The slopes of the mountains are frequently boggy and 
very bare, and consequently provide poor pasturage for 
sheep and cattle. Notwithstanding such natural draw- 
backs, great improvements have taken place on the large 
estates within recent years, by a systematic scheme of 



AGRICULTURE 67 

drainage, and enclosing of waste lands. The quality of 
the soil has been much improved by regular courses of 
various kinds of manures, with a generous application 
of lime. The result of this now is that we see many 
of the hilly slopes covered with herds of small black cattle, 
while with occasional feeding on enclosed lands, the small 
Welsh mountain sheep, as nimble as goats, do well in 
the summer-time on the scanty herbage of the mountain 
slopes. 

The returns of the Board of Agriculture record that 
there were in 1912 455,789 sheep in the county. This 
enormous number is not exceeded by any county in 
Wales save Breconshire and Montgomery. Merioneth- 
shire may thus be considered mainly a great sheep-breeding 
district. The quality of the mutton is admitted on all 
hands to be excellent, hundreds of carcases being sent 
weekly to the larger towns. The number of cattle fed 
in the county in 1912 was 36,937. 

The landowners of Merionethshire, as is well known, 
have greatly encouraged the farmers in the improvement 
of the land. Much money has been spent in reclaiming 
the turbaries and wastes by drainage. The Ynys-y-maen- 
gwyn estate near Towyn has been almost entirely won 
from waste moors and wild and barren uplands. The 
embanking of the Traeth Mawr in the early years of 
the last century reclaimed an immense expanse on the 
left bank of the Glaslyn from the overflow of the sea. 
Similarly in the Dwyryd valley much land has been 
gained by embankments and careful drainage. This 
land, formerly a barren marsh, has been completely 



68 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



transformed into farms of luxuriant fertility. The em- 
banking of the Dysynni was done at an enormous 
cost by the owners of the Peniarth estates. In the 
north-east, too, on the Rug estates we find that much 
reclamation by proper drainage of the wet, peaty, and 
argillaceous soil has taken place. The county in general 
to-day presents an appearance very different from that 



;tf» 




The Glaslyn River : Snowdon in the distance 

when the Rev. Walter Davies (Gwallter Mechain) made 
his report upon it in the early years of the last century. 
He then spoke of it as possessing an immense area of 
irreclaimable wastes. 

The acreage under crops is greatly on the increase, 
and by the last returns there appear to have been 
151,945 acres under cultivation, which is over one-third 
of the whole superficial area of the county. It must 



AGRICULTURE 69 

not, however, be forgotten that this estimate does not 
include mountain and heath-land. 

The number of acres devoted to the raising of various 
kinds of corn in 1912 was 13,650, of which 8986 acres 
were under oats and 4081 acres under barley. The 
quantity of wheat-land was very small and did not exceed 
519 acres. The growing of root-crops is on the increase 
and more attention is being bestowed upon them ; 
turnips, swedes, mangolds, cabbages, potatoes, and vetches 
accounted for 3250 acres, whilst clover, sainfoin, and 
grasses under rotation took up 10,526 acres. Much 
land within recent years has been laid down to pasture. 
This is due partly to the increased cost of labour and 
partly to the diminished value of corn. The mountain 
and heath-lands devoted to grazing is about 196,000 acres. 

Of the cultivated land it is of very great interest to 
read that the land occupied by tenant-farmers is close 
upon 142,000 acres, whilst that in the immediate hands 
of owners is scarcely 11,000 acres. 

Woodlands are of three kinds. First come the coppices 
or woods which are cut periodically, and ot these there 
are 468 acres ; then there are plantations, that is woods 
planted within recent years, which comprise 314 acres; 
and lastly we have the forests or woods of long standing 
which cover 15,912 acres. There has been an increase 
during the last ten years of one thousand acres of land 
under wood. The alders are periodically cut down for 
clog-making. 

None of the farms are large, the hill-farms especially 
being very small. Young stock is much raised on the 



70 MERIONETHSHIRE 

hill-farms, and considerable quantities of butter find their 
way to the Bala, Corwen, and Dolgelly markets. The 
farmers are a hardy race and are greatly attached to their 
native hills and farmsteads. They live frugally on their 
sixty or seventy acres, and employ but little labour outside 
their ou^n immediate families, and that little only inter- 
mittently. They are not slaves to the plough and the 
harrow, as they are not much given to growing corn. 
Their time is largely spent in looking after their flocks 
of sheep and their few cattle. Usually, however, they 
have some hired labour at hay-time, keeping it perhaps 
till after the harvest. 

Like the landowners who boast of a lineage goino- 
back to the time of the Welsh princes, the farmers too, 
in very many instances, trace their descent from the 
retainers of many of these old chieftains. In the report 
of the Welsh Land Commission we have evidences of 
farmers whose families have lived in the same valley, on 
the same homestead, for two, three, and even five centuries. 
These are not isolated instances but they are to be found 
in every part of the county. So great is the attachment to 
the old homestead that, in some cases, it was reported 
to be difficult to prevail upon a tenant to leave a tumble- 
down tenement for a new one only a few yards away. 

13. Industries and Manufactures. 

Next to Agriculture, the chief industry of the county 
is slate-quarrying, which has several thousands of men 
and boys engaged in it. The chief centre is Festiniog, 



INDUSTRIES AND MANUFACTURES 71 

where over 3000 hands are employed. Corris at one 
time had over 500 hands at work, but owing to the 
great depression in the slate-trade of the last few years 
this number has been very much reduced. At Aberllefeni 
about 150 hands are employed, and at Abergynolwyn 
some 200. The Pennal quarries are much smaller, with 
only 80 hands, while at Arthog there are not more 
than 50. 

Slate-quarrying is a very old industry. It appears to 
have given employment to a few men in some parts of 
the county as early as the reign of Queen Elizabeth. 
In tile latter half of the sixteenth century a small quarry 
appears to have been opened at Aberllefeni. The slates 
from it were used to roof the old manor-house of the 
place, a large half-timbered structure, ot a character with 
the large houses of the Tudor period. To what extent 
a systematic working of the quarry was carried on it is 
difficult to say. 

The slates of that early period were not as thin and 
as carefully split as they are to-day, but thick and heavy, 
and more like the stone tiles seen on many a cottage and 
farm-house in rural Wales to-day. They were of course 
obtained where the slate-rock cropped out at the surface, 
and undoubtedly lent themselves to be split easily into 
thick, and perhaps rough, blocks. No attempt seems to 
have been made to work down and scoop into the heart 
of the mountain where the best slate is to be found, as 
we now see the quarrymen do at Festiniog. On many 
of the hills of this county there are traces of old workings 
which serve to remind us of the primitive methods in 



n 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



vogue in olden times. From these old workings we are 
able to trace the old paths along which the men ot those 
days conveyed the slate either upon their shoulders or 
upon small ponies to the valleys below. 

Slate-quarrying in a scientific manner was first com- 
menced in this county in the latter half of the eighteenth 
century. The first quarry at Festiniog was the Diphwys, 




Oakeley Quarries, Blaenau Festiniog 

opened in 1765. In 1800 it came to be called by a 
double name, by adding the name of the leaseholder ot 
the quarry-rights, and became the Diphwys-Casson. The 
slates at that time were carried on pony-back in panniers 
to Congl-y-wal, and thence conveyed in carts to Maen- 
twro2;, where they were placed in barges and taken to 
Traeth Bach to be shipped. 



INDUSTRIES AND MANUFACTURES 73 

The Bowydd Quarry was opened in i8oi. It was 
taken on by Mr Percival in 1846, when it was known as 
Bowydd-Percival's. The Rhiwbach Quarry was opened 
in 1812. These were the earliest. Many others have 
since been opened, amongst which we have the Llechwedd, 
the Moelwyn, the Graigddu, and the Cynicht, so that 
the output is very great. The quarries are both open 




Splitting and dressing Slates, Blaenau Festiniog 

and underground, but most of the Festiniog quarries at 
the present time are of the latter description. 

Lord Palmerston, the great English statesman, took 
an active interest in the quarries started by the Welsh 
Slate company at Rhiwbryfdir in 18 16. These bear the 
name of Palmerston's to this day. 

The main output of the Festiniog quarries is conveyed 



74 MERIONETHSHIRE 

to Portmadoc by the little narrow-gauge railway for 
shipment coastwise and to foreign countries. The first 
tramway was laid down to Portmadoc in 1833, and for 
thirty years horses were employed to draw the empty 
trucks the up journey, but on the downward journey the 
loaded trucks proceeded to the harbour by their own 
gravitation. " So it went on," says a writer, " horses 
pulling empty waggons and slate-trucks up, and the 
waggons returning the compliment by carrying the horses 
down again." 

Steam locomotion was brought into practical use on 
this steep little narrow-gauge tramroad in the year 1873. 
The curious little double-bogie engines upon their first 
introduction created quite a sensation. Their ingenious 
adaptability for mountain climbing attracted European 
attention. Royal Commissions were sent from con- 
tinental countries to make enquiries, under the guidance 
of our own Foreign Office. They came, inspected, and 
reported to their respective governments upon the wonderful 
new means of transit. 

The railway is a marvellously skilful piece of 
engineering work, being only 23^ inches gauge, with 
an average gradient of one in ninety-two. It is 13I miles 
long, and runs up-hill from Portmadoc to Diphwys, 
reaching a height of 700 feet above sea-level. It is 
computed that the cost of its construction amounted at 
least to j^6ooo per mile. 

The gold-mining industry employs a considerable 
number of hands in the Mawddach valley. These mines 
have been worked at intermittent periods from \ery early 



INDUSTRIES AND MANUFACTURES 75 

times with varying degrees of success. The Romans in 
the first centuries of the Christian era knew of the presence 
of gold in the quartz rock of the Ganllwyd. There has 
been discovered on the farm of Dol-y-Clochydd on the 
banks of the Upper Mawddach some of the flux of the 
smelting-furnaces then in use. Mixed with the flux were 




Rhaiadr Mawddach and Gold Mine, Dolgelly 

several pieces of broken pottery of Roman make. A little 
further up the stream in a small cairn there was found a 
few years ago a complete and perfect earthenware vessel 
of Roman make, bearing unmistakable traces that it had 
been used in a smelting furnace of some kind. 

Coming down to later times we have the Clogau and 
the Gwynfynydd mines. In the year i860 a company 



7Q MERIONETHSHIRE 

was promoted, which had for its chairman John Bright, 
to work the Clogau gold mines. The yield is said to 
have realised a profit of over twenty thousand pounds 
per annum in the first years of working, but the venture 
ultimately collapsed. In the nineties of the last century 
a great impetus was given to the search by Mr Pritchard 
Morgan, who carried on the undertaking himself with 
marvellous success. A company was afterwards formed 
and the work has proceeded regularly with varying fortune 
up to the present day. 

The Gwynfynydd mines were restarted upon modern 
lines in 1888, and it is said that the output realised an 
annual profit of fifty thousand pounds for many years. 
These were closed down for a long time, but have 
recently been reopened with new machinery. 

There was also a gold mine at Carn Dochan in the 
valley of the Lliw near Llanuwchllyn. This was on 
the property of Sir Watkin W. Wynn, and was worked 
by a company of which John Bright was also chairman. 
In 1869 and thereabout it continued working when other 
ventures in the county had ceased. 

Copper mines are worked in the elevated tracts of the 
LlawUech ridge, in the Eden valley, and on the Glasdir 
near Llanfachreth, and lead mining engao-es many hands 
at intermittent periods at Towyn, Dolgelly, and Dinas 
Mawddwy. 

Manganese ore is similarly worked at irregular intervals 
at Harlech, Barmouth, Moelfre near Llanbedr, Maes-y- 
garnedd in Cwm Nant Col, Cross Foxes, and Cwm 
Mynach above Bontddu. 



INDUSTRIES AND MANUFACTURES 11 

The manufacturing capacity of the county is very 
small. The most important manufacture is the weaving 
of flannel and substantial woollen fabrics. These industries 
are distributed throus^hout the villao-es of the districts where 
homespuns are made. Dolgelly is the chief centre for this 
kind of woollen stuft, though Dinas Mawddwy almost 
rivals it in the production of flannel. 

At Dolgelly, some years ago, a very superior kind of 
Welsh tweed cloth was manufactured, which attained 
considerable favour among the wholesale firms of London 
and Manchester. Lara;e contracts were executed for the 
army, amounting it is said to _^50,ooo worth of fabrics 
annually. That epoch was the golden era of the woollen 
trade of the county town. 

In a MS. of the late Robert Oliver Rees we learn 
the following interesting particulars about the trade in 
Welsh flannel : — " Dolgelly and its neighbourhood has 
been noted for several centuries for the manufacture of 
a kind of coarse woollen cloth called Webs or Welsh 
Flannel. This was formerly the principal trade and 
source of emolument of the town. Nearly every poor 
man within the town and every little farmer in the 
neighbourhood had his loom and made his Webs, to 
support himself and family. The Flannel Manufacture 
of Dolgelly is specifically noticed in Acts of Parliament 
of James I ; and the Privy Council of Charles II issued 
two successive orders for its regulation. Durino- the 
interval of peace which lasted for some years between 
the close of the American War and the commencement 
of the great European revolution of 1793, Dolgelly was 



78 MERIONETHSPIIRE 

calculated to return from ^50,000 to ^^ 100,000 annually 
in this article only. These Webs were chiefly used for 
clothing the armies. The Webs were rolled up with 
machines into half-bales of about 18 yards each, two of 
these bales making a whole Web. The annual sale does 
not now (1848) exceed 500 bales." 

The town of Bala was famous in the past for its 
knitted gloves, its stockings, and its woollen caps, the 
latter being known as " Welsh wigs." As early as the 
opening years of the nineteenth century the Rev. Walter 
Davies, in his report on the Domestic Economy of North 
Wales, says that this town was the chief market for the 
sale of knitted stockings and socks, as well as the centre 
of a wide circuit in which they were made. The principal 
hosiers of the place at that time estimated the regular 
trade in these commodities at from seventeen to nineteen 
thousand pounds per annum. Since that time the business 
of the making and the selling of stockings in these parts 
has fallen off very much. 

14. Fisheries and Fishing: Stations. 

The sea-fisheries of the British Islands take rank 
among their most important industries, and provide regular 
employment for thousands of hands. It is computed 
that there are regularly engaged in this industry in 
our country alone nearly a hundred thousand men and 
boys. The total annual value of the fish caught in the 
British Islands at the present time exceeds ten million 
pounds sterling. 



FISHERIES AND FISHING STATIONS 79 

The chief methods of fishing are those carried on 
by trawl-nets, drift-nets, and lines. The fish mainly 
caught in the trawl-nets are turbot, brill, soles, dories, 
and red mullet. These are called the " prime " class. 
In the nets there will also be found plaice, haddock, 
and whiting in countless numbers ; these are called by 
fishermen, "offal," and sell at a lower price than the 
" prime." 

Drift-net fishing is the method employed for catching 
mackerel, herring, and pilchards; fish that swim near the 
surface of the water. It is called drift-fishing from the 
manner in which the nets are manipulated. They are 
neither fixed nor towed within any precise limits, but 
are set out where fish are expected to be, and are allowed 
to drift with the tide. 

The finest mackerel-fishing ground in our country 
extends from St David's Head in Pembrokeshire along 
the South Wales coast into the waters of the Bristol 
Channel. At times, however, great shoals of small 
mackerel enter Cardigan Bay in June ; and are caught 
in large quantities in September near the mouth of the 
Dovey estuary. The fishermen of this little port sell 
much of their catches at Towyn during the height of 
the visiting season. The herring enters Cardigan Bay 
in August in large shoals, but they generally keep to the 
Aberystwyth portion of the coast. The Aberdovey 
fishermen make ereat hauls of herrina; at certain seasons. 

Line-fishing is relatively insignificant when compared 
with the net-fishing, and yields not more than one- 



'to? 



y 



fortieth of the total value of fish caught on our shores. 



80 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



But line-fishing is carried on pretty generally in most 
waters. The Welsh coast is the favourite haunt of the 
bass, and along the waters of the Merionethshire coast 
a large quantity of this fish is caught, together with 
plaice, turbot, and mullet. 

The season for bass-fishing extends from May to 
September, and many are caught in the neighbourhood 
of Aberdovey and Towyn. There is no better water 






J--- _ 5fc 






The Beach, Llwyngwril 



for bass anywhere along the coast than the tidal water 
of the Dysynni estuary. The fish frequently ascend the 
broad Mawddach estuary as far as Penmaenpool, and it is 
said they are sometimes taken in the upper reaches of 
the tidal water, especially at high tides. Sometimes they 
are very plentiful in the tidal limits of the Artro at 
Llanbedr, and during high tides they are sometimes 
found to travel up the creeks intersecting the Harlech 



FISHERIES AND FISHING STATIONS HI 



in 



nets in the tidal 



marshes. They are often taken 
waters of the lower Glaslyn. 

Turbot and brill are common on all parts of the 
coast, especially at Barmouth. In the Dovey estuary 
the turbot are caught in nets called foot-nets. A small 
kind of cod is common in the Dovey estuary, and off 
Barmouth. The whiting is intermittent in its visits 




The Dwyryd River 

between September and March, when good hauls are 
taken. The flounder or fluke is plentiful in all the 
estuaries, and at times is fovmd to ascend the rivers for 
long distances. Lemon-soles too are found alona; the 
coast. 

Fine lobsters and prawns are caught at Towyn. Oft 
Barmouth good hauls are occasionally made of grey 
mullet and skate ; and the latter fish is sometimes taken 

INI. M. 6 



82 MERIONETHSHIRE 

in trawls off Aberdovey. The fishermen of the Traeth 
Bach catch much flat-fish by spearing, and it is inter- 
esting to watch the men wade into the water up to 
their chests in pursuit of their quarry. 

Most of the Merionethshire streams and lakes abound 
in fresh-water fish which aftord anglers excellent sport. 
In the Dovey salmon, sea-trout, and sewin are plentiful, 
indeed for the two latter there is not a better stream in 
North Wales, though the Dysynni is not far behind it. 
In the Mawddach above Penmaenpool bridge the fly- 
rod is used to advantage, and good sport is experienced 
with the sewin. Near to Llanelltyd bridge excellent 
salmon, trout, and sewin fishing is obtained. The 
Camlan stream above Ty'n-y-Groes is well stocked with 
small trout and the Wnion is a 2:ood sewin stream, 
while its feeders are plentifully stocked with trout. It 
has also a variety of silvery trout with a red fin near 
the tail. Known to local fishermen as the "red-fin," it 
rarely exceeds a quarter-of-a-pound in weight, and is 
caught between the beginning of February and the 
middle of May. The Artro and Dwyryd are good 
sewin and trout streams. The latter in years gone by, 
before the slate-quarrying industry of Festiniog attained 
its huge proportions, was considered the best salmon 
stream in North Wales. The waters of the eastern 
watershed comprising the Dee and its tributaries also 
afford good fishing. 

The lakes of the county are well stocked with fish 
of various kinds. Bala Lake has been referred to in an 
earlier chapter as to its shoals of gwyn'iaid and other 



FISHERIES AXD FISHING STATIONS 83 

species. The Aran is plentifully supplied with trout 
which rise well to the fly in May, and fish of a pound 
and over are often cauffht. The lakes at the base of 
Cader Idris contain plenty of trout, perch, and eels. 
The trout of Llyn-y-Gader are lean, unshapely specimens, 
and are somewhat insipid. Ot all the lakes of North 
Wales, Talyllyn is the best natural trout water, and the 
fish are of a most delicate flavour. Of the lakes of the 
Ardudwy country, Llyn Dul)'n is the best fishing water 
so far as numbers are concerned. The best of the 
Rhinog group is Llyn Perfeddan, in which the trout are 
beautifully golden and firm, and are of the size of a 
herrino;. 



15. History of Merionethshire. 

The Romans are the first people who have left us 
written records of our country. They succeeded in 
obtaining a footing in Merionethshire before the close 
of the first century of the Christian era. They did not 
find it an easy task, for they met with fiercer opposition 
in Wales than in any other country, and this resistance 
was carried on tlirough a long series of years. 

In the year 50 A.D., the two chief tribes, the Silures 
of South Wales and the Ordovices of our county and 
Montgomeryshire, acted together in resisting a general 
attack of the Roman legions. The Britons were led 
by Caractacus (more properly Caratacus), a Brython like 
the Ordovices, though not of that tribe. He had fought 

6-2 



84 MERIONETHSHIRE 

against the Romans for nine years, and had made his 
home with the Silures. As Tacitus tells us, Caractacus 
and his Britons were defeated at a hill-fortress in the 
country of the Ordovices, which was protected on one 
side by a river not easy to ford. Some authorities locate 
this spot on the Breidden Hills in Montgomeryshire, 
others in places not far removed from those hills, but 
there is no certainty to-day of the exact spot. This 
defeat in no sense completed the Roman Conquest. 
The tribes of Wales continued their resistance, and 
persevered in their harassing policy for nearly thirty years 
after this. So persistent and active were they that it is 
said that Ostorius Scapula, the conqueror of Caractacus, 
died heart-broken at the vain efforts to subdue them. 

Excellent military roads were constructed here with 
marvellous skill, sufficiently wide in nearly all instances 
for wheeled chariots. Probably the Romans experienced 
greater difficulty in the making of roads in this county 
than in any other part of the country. The gradients 
and windings are most remarkable. These roads were 
made not only for purposes of administration, but also 
to reach the mines of lead, copper, and other minerals 
in the mountainous parts. There is a significant proof 
of this in a vicinal road which crossed from the Ganllwyd 
to the wilds of Ardudwy by way of the "Roman Steps," 
well known to tourists. These steps leading from Cwm 
Bychan over the pass are truly wonderfully made, 
forming a remarkable staircase of well-laid steps. The 
conveyance of mineral ore of some kind or other can be 
the only possible explanation of this elaborate and lengthy 




The "Roman Steps,"' near Cwm Bychan 



86 MERIONETHSHIRE 

staircase in such an out-of-the-way place. We can 
almost see the long procession of British slaves toiling 
under these towerine crao;s with their burdens on their 
way to Tomen-y-Mur, the nearest Roman station. 

After the departure of the Romans in the early years 
of the fifth century, the chief event affecting our county 
was the clearing out of the Goidel or Gael by the sons 
of Cunedda, referred to in a previous chapter. These 
followers of Cunedda were Brythons like the Ordovices 
of Meirionydd. 

During Saxon times the main districts of our county 
were under the rule of the princes of Gwynedd, 
and though some parts now in Merionethshire were in 
Powys, the greater influence came from the princes of 
Aberffraw. This was the time when all the British 
people came to be known as Cymry, that is, Cym-hro — 
"people of the same bro," as opposed to the Ail-fro^ the 
foreigner. 

Many princes ruled our land during the Saxon period, 
from Maelgwn Gwynedd to Gruffydd ap Llewelyn, 
the enemy of Earl Harold of Hastings fame. It com- 
prised the age of King Arthur, around whose name there 
has been woven that cycle of myth and fantasy which 
has charmed the greatest writers of our land. Some of 
the Arthurian traditions still survive in this county. 

In the time of Rhodri the Great, the Saxons of 
Mercia made many attempts to invade Gwynedd. They 
were every time repelled, and in 870 a.d., the Chronicles 
tell us that a great battle was fought near Llangollen in 
which the Mercians suffered terrible loss. 



HISTORY OF MERIONETHSHIRE 87 

Under Llewelyn ap Seisyllt and his son GrutFydd 
the territories of Gwynedd and Powys were ruled by 
the same sovereigns, and prospered greatly. Gruffydd 
extended the limits of his rule far beyond Offa's Dyke, 
and his name was a terror to the Saxon. Edward the 
Confessor and his powerful earls were compelled upon 
several occasions to sue for terms of peace from him. So 
well did Gruffydd ap Llewelyn circumvent the Danes 
that they dared not attack any part of his territory. In 
every sense he was the most capable ruler Wales had 
yet seen, and was king over all the Welsh race. He was 
murdered by the treachery of his own people in 1063, 
in order to pacify the wrath of Earl Harold. 

With the close of the career of Gruffydd ap Llewelyn 
we enter upon the period of Norman invasion. The 
Normans after their conquest of England engaged in 
the task of subduing Wales and built a number of castles 
with that end in view. The greatest help to them in 
this was the ever-present tendency to internecine quarrels 
among the Welsh. The Normans learnt to watch for 
these and allied themselves with the powerful parties, 
joining in every quarrel for the purpose of gaining their 
own ends. 

The princes who were pre-eminent in opposing the 
Norman attack in the earliest stages were Bleddyn ap 
Cynfyn of Powys, and Gruffydd ap Cynan of Gwynedd. 
Bleddyn was killed in battle in 1075 and, upon his death, 
his cousin Trahaearn ap Caradog, the ruler of Arwystli, 
a part of Montgomeryshire, seized upon the sovereignty. 
But Gruffydd ap Cynan, the representative of the ancient 



88 MERIONETHSHIRE 

line of Gwynedd from Rhodri the Great and Cunedda, 
came upon the scene. 

He was assisted by the men of Gwynedd, who re- 
garded Trahaearn, the man of Powys, as an interloper. 
Gruffydd's first conflict with Trahaearn was at Gwaeterw 
— " The Bloody Acre," — in Glyn Cyfyng, now known 
as DyfFryn Glyncul in the hundred of Meirionydd. 
Trahaearn was defeated and was driven in headlong flight 
to his native Arwystli. Gruffydd pursued his advantage 
and forced Trahaearn to stand at Mynydd Carn on the 
borders of Cardiganshire in 1079, where a battle took 
place, in which Trahaearn was slain. This second victory 
decided the sovereignty of the north, and Gruffydd ap 
Cynan became the undisputed ruler in Gwynedd and 
Powys. Later, however, he was betrayed into the hands 
of Hugh Lupus, " the Wolf," of Chester, and Hugh, 
" the Red," of Shrewsbury, his bitterest enemies, and for 
twelve years was a captive in Chester Castle, whence he 
ultimately escaped to Ireland. 

From Ireland Gruffydd ap Cynan returned with a 
fleet of twenty-three ships and landed in Anglesey. The 
men of Mon and Arfon immediately flocked to his standard 
and a little later those of Meirionydd, Ardudwy, Penllyn, 
and Edeyrnion. He also entered into an alliance with 
Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, prince of Powys, and together they 
harassed the Normans to such an extent that the barons 
ultimately appealed to William Rufus for aid. 

In 1096 the Norman king came into Wales by way 
of Shrewsbury, and entered the highlands of Merioneth- 
shire. By the first of November he was at Mur-y-Castell, 



HISTORY OF MERIONETHSHIRE 89 

or as it is now called Tomen-y-xVlur, near Trawsfynydd. 
But GrufFydd and Cadwgan from their safe mountain 
fastnesses fell suddenly upon the Norman hosts and 
caused William to beat a hasty retreat. He vowed, how- 
ever, to return the following summer and exterminate 
every Welshman in the land. 

Rufus did return the following year as he had pur- 
posed, but he was again compelled to quit Wales defeated, 
having suflFered great losses in men, horses, and treasure, 
and having slain scarcely a man of the nation he had 
vowed to exterminate. 

After this there was peace in the land for a time, and 
the English were content to leave Gwynedd and Powys 
to be ruled by their native princes. Friendly intercourse 
in time took place between the two nations, and Cadwgan 
ap Bleddyn ultimately married the daughter of a Shropshire 
baron. 

Gruffydd ap Cynan was succeeded by his son Owain 
Gwynedd, a prince of great prowess. He reigned at a 
time when Wales presented a united front to English 
encroachment and most certainly commanded due respect 
from the kings of England. The age of Owain Gwynedd 
was an age of great princes, and his influence lived through 
the rule of his grandson Llewelyn ap lorwerth (surnamed 
the Great) and that of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, the last 
prince of Wales. 

Owain Gwynedd was a great strategist. His success 
in frustrating the attacks of Henry II at various times, 
and especially in the year 1166 on the Berwyns near 
Corwen, proves him to have been one of the most capable 



90 MERIONETHSHIRE 

and intrepid captains of his time. He died in the year 
1 1 69 after a reign of thirty-two years, having successfully 
defended his father's realm and anticipated that union of 
Wales which his grandson Llewelyn the Great firmly 
established, 

Llewelyn ap lorwerth, surnamed " the Great," grand- 
son of Owain Gwynedd, fills an important place in the 
annals of Wales of the thirteenth century. He dispossessed 
Gwenwynwyn, prince of Powys, of the commote of 
Penllyn and its castle of Bala, of which the famous 
" Tomen " was probably the castle mound. Llewelyn 
is said to have fortified this castle to prevent inroads into 
Meirionydd and Ardudwy. 

Llewelyn married Joan, daughter of King John of 
England, but he was often at variance with his father-in- 
law, though his wife frequently proved an able peace-maker 
between them. In the obtainino- of the Magna Charta 
Llewelyn took a very active part, and the Welsh benefited 
equally with the English in its provisions. All the lands 
which had been taken from them in Wales and the 
Marches were restored to them. Other ordinances con- 
ferring special liberties and privileges upon the Welsh 
princes were obtained by Llewelyn, who carried great 
influence in the councils of the barons. Acting upon the 
restoration of the land by the Great Charter, Llewelyn 
called together all the Welsh princes to define the limits 
of each separate territory. This council met at Aber- 
dovey in 1216, and the Welsh chieftains are said to have 
returned home acknowledging Llewelyn as their suzerain 
lord. 



HISTORY OF MERIOXETPISHIRE 91 

The last of the native princes was Llewelyn ap 
Gruffydd, the grandson of Llewelyn the Great. He came 
to the throne in 1255 and for twenty-six years proved 
himself a most capable and efficient ruler. He dominated 
the country much as his grandfather did, and succeeded 
in obtaining a much wider territorial influence as well as 
a prouder title. He played a great part in the politics 
of England and Wales of the thirteenth century and 
succeeded more than any other prince in infusing a 
patriotic spirit into the life of his countrymen. He met 
his death in a most unexpected manner, not at the head 
of his army in a great fight, but alone when engaged 
upon some private errand in a part of the country far 
from his native domains. With him died the spirit of 
Welsh independence. There was no one to wear his 
mantle. But the spirit of Welsh nationality was not 
dead. It had been made an enduring principle ot Welsh 
aspiration by its last prince. 



16. History — Later Times. 

In a little more than a hundred years after the fall 
of the last Llewelyn occurred an extraordinary rising, 
led by Owain Glyndwr of Glyn Dyfrdwy, which occu- 
pies an important place in the annals of Merionethshire. 
Bold, clever, and versatile, Glyndwr at once captivated and 
held spell-bound the zeal and aspirations of his country- 
men in all parts of Wales. They flocked to his standard 
in immense hosts wherexer he chose to unfurl it. He 



92 MERIONETHSHIRE 

appeared at a time in the history of the nation when 
the people were suffering from the harsh, unjust, and 
cruel Jaws made in the reign of Henry IV, laws inten- 
tionally passed in order to crush out of existence every 
semblance of Cymric aspiration and nationality. 

The direct and immediate cause of the rising was due 
to the enmity between Glyndwr and his nearest neigh- 
bour, Reginald, Lord Grey of Ruthin, the Marcher Lord, 
who in the exercise of his duties as the King's representa- 
tive purposely delayed serving Glyndwr with the King's 
commands. The inability of Glyndwr to honour the 
commands was looked upon as an act of treason to the 
Crown. Lord Grey of Ruthin now obtained what he 
had long desired. By permission of the King he attacked 
the Welshman's homestead at Sycharth and seized upon 
the estates of Glyn Dyfrdwy. This was done in so sudden 
and unexpected a manner that Glyndwr had barely time 
to escape. He soon retaliated, however, by burning Lord 
Grey's castle at Ruthin to the ground, and the affair 
at once became one of national importance. The people 
came to him in thousands to Cor wen from all parts. 
From Edeyrnion, Penllyn, Ardudwy, and Dolgelly they 
flocked to his standard, and hailed him as "Owain, Prince 
of Wales." 

Henry Hotspur, a son of the Earl of Northumberland, 
was at that time Justice of North Wales and Constable 
of its chief castles. He was commanded by the Kino; 
to take action forthwith, and accordingly in May, 1401, 
he proceeded to Dolgelly with a strong military force. 
At the foot of Cader Idris he met with the forces of 



HISTORY— LATER TIMES 93 

Glyndwr, A severe but undecided conflict took place, 
in which the followers of Glyndwr fully held their 
ground. Hotspur did not attempt to renew the attack, 
nor did he pursue Glyndwr farther, but quitted North 
Wales and resigned his offices of Justice and Constable. 

Glyndwr next met his enemy Lord Grey, the battle 
taking place on the slopes of the Berwyn facing the 
Vyrnwy. The Lord of Ruthin not only lost the day, 
but was also made a prisoner. After several months in 
the castle of Dolbadarn he was released, having consented 
to pay the heavy fine of ten thousand marks, an enormous 
sum for that time. The King, however, became surety. 
He had also to take oath that he would never bear arms 
against Glyndwr again. The King three times led an 
expedition against Glyndwr, and three times was beaten 
back discomfited. Shakespeare refers to this in King 
Henry IF when he makes Glyndwr say : — 

Three times hath Henry Bolingbroke made head 
Against my power. Thrice from the banks of Wye 
And sandy-bottomed Severn have I sent 
Him bootless home and weather-beaten back." 

(Pt I, ni, I.) 

Glyndwr summoned a parliament of his countrymen 
in 1403, which met at Machynlleth. To this parliament 
the majority of the nobility and gentry came in very large 
numbers. Subsequently, in 1404, another parliament 
met at Dolgelly, from which overtures were made to the 
King of France " as a brother and an equal," which were 
responded to in due course by the French King. 




The Gateway. Harlech Castle 



HISTORY— LATER TIMES 95 

The castle of Harlech had been seized upon early in 
the rising by Glyndwr. He maintained possession of it 
almost to the end of his brief but brilliant career. His 
family lived at the castle, together with his son-in-law, 
Edmund Mortimer, who died during the siege of the 
castle by Henry IV's forces. In 1409 an attack was 
made upon Harlech, led by Gilbert and John Talbot for 
the King; the besiegers comprised one thousand well- 
armed soldiers and a big siege train. The besieged were 
in the advantageous situation of being able to recei\e 
their necessary supplies from the sea, for the waves of 
Cardigan Bay at that time washed the base of the rock 
upon which the castle stands. Greater vigilance on the 
part of the attacking force stopped this and the castle was 
surrendered in the spring of the year. Glyndwr's wife, 
her widowed daughter, and the other children were made 
captives and taken to the Tower. But Glyndwr was not 
in the castle when it was taken. 

It is thought that he died in 14 16, but no one knows 
with certainty when or where. He appeared like a meteor 
and was gone as suddenly. His greatness, however, is 
shown in the effort which he made to create out of the 
chaos of the time in which he lived a nation with high 
ideals. His letter to the King of France proves him to 
have been an ardent lover of his country, of which he 
laboured to secure the independence. He desired also to 
establish two universities in Wales, one in the north and 
the other in the south. All these ideals vanished with 
his disappearance, and have been realised only in part 
some centuries after his death. 



96 MERIONETHSHIRE 

The seventy years which elapsed from the disappear- 
ance of Owain Glyndwr to the coming of the Tudors 
were dark days in the history of Wales. When 
Edward IV ascended the throne after the victory of 
Mortimer's Cross, in which he was assisted by a fine 
body of Welshmen, he set abovit obtaining possession of 
all the castles. Only a very few of these strongholds 
held out, among which was Harlech, where young Henry 
Tvidor, Earl of Richmond, had found a temporary home. 

The King sent an army to take it commanded by that 
famous Welshman, Sir William ap Thomas of Raglan, 
otherwise known as Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pem- 
broke of the second creation. It was reduced bv famine 
and young Henry Tudor was made prisoner and conveyed 
to Sir William's own castle at Raglan. He was not a cap- 
tive for long, however, as at the battle of Banbury, in 1469, 
Edward IV was defeated, and Sir William Herbert became 
a prisoner and was afterwards beheaded. Jasper Tudor 
obtained the release of his nephew, and for the next two 
years the young man probably spent much of his time 
between his uncle's domains and those of his friends the 
Vaughans of Corsygedol. 

After the defeat of the Lancastrian party at Tewkes- 
bury in 1 47 1, Jasper Tudor and the young Earl of 
Richmond fled to Brittany, where they remained for 
fourteen years. In the manuscript history of the 
Vaughans of Corsygedol in the Mostyn Library it is 
recorded that Griffith Vaughan of Corsygedol in the 
reign of Edward IV, or that of Richard III, erected a 
house at Barmouth that he mio;ht the more easily be in 



HISTORY— LATER TIMES 97 

communication with Jasper Tudor and his nephew. This 
house was called Y Ty gwyn yn Bermo — "The white 
house at Barmouth." This manuscript further states that 
young Henry Tudor and his uncle escaped to France 
from this place. 

Henry Tudor landed at Milford Haven in 148 5, and 
was welcomed by many thousands of his countrymen. 
They marched in great array to Market Bosworth, and 
there on Bosworth Field was fought the decisive battle 
which placed a scion of the ancient line of Cunedda 
upon the English throne. The men of Meirionydd and 
Ardudwy were there in great numbers, led by the Lord 
of Cwm Bychan, in whose honour the Cymric air, 
" Ffarwel Dai Llwyd," was composed. 



17. Antiquities. 

As stated on a former page no relics of Palaeolithic 
man have as yet been discovered in Merioneth, but when 
we come down to the next period, the Neolithic, we 
have quite a wealth of evidence of various kinds, not only 
in highly polished celts and other implements, but also in 
monuments, such as stone circles, standing stones, barrows, 
cromlechs, tumuli, and encampments of a very striking 
character. It would be difficult to name a district of 
Wales where more numerous or more important vestiges 
of this kind exist than in the commote of Ardudwy. 

The most interesting and unusual specimen of stone 
implement found in Merionethshire is the beautiful and 

M. M, 7 



98 MERIONETHSHIRE 

elaborately-finished hammer-head discovered at Maesmawr, 
near Corwen, more than fifty years ago, and particularly 
noticed by Sir John Evans in his great work on Ancient 
Stone Itnplements. It is covered with reticulated orna- 
mentation worked with exact precision, and must have 
cost much labour, and the perforation for the handle is 
formed with singular symmetry. 

Several flakes or chippings of flint having very fine 
edges were found in 1854 mixed with burnt bones and 
ashes in a cist of a stone circle near Llanaber. These 
flints were fovind in a district which has produced no 
native flint, and they were undoubtedly buried with the 
Neolithic warrior who owned them, in the belief that they 
would prove of use to him after death. In the cist of a 
carnedd on Ffridd Eithinog, near Corsygedol, there were 
also found flakes or chippings which were not of flint, 
but of a hard siliceous grit. These were also mixed with 
burnt bones and ashes, proving that the early people of 
this territory cremated their dead. In other parts of 
Merionethshire similar hard-stone flakes have been found. 

The Ardudwy country is full of the larger remains of 
the New Stone Age, comprising chambered cists encased 
by immense cairns and surrounded by stone circles. We 
have cromlechs and chambered barrows in plenty. On 
the slopes of the hills running parallel to the coast, at 
different elevations, are innumerable remains of dwell- 
ings, enclosures, graves, and fortified strongholds of the 
prehistoric people. These strongholds, almost without 
exception, appear to be connected with the lines of 
communication and passes, and were undoubtedly places 



ANTIQUITIES 99 

of safe retreat in case of danger. Of the chambered 
barrows and cairns many have been ruthlessly destroyed ; 
the stones of them having been used to build the sub- 
stantial boundary walls seen in the neighbourhood. But 
what remains of them are very characteristic as structures 
of the Neolithic Age. 

Perhaps the most interesting of all are the Carneddau 
Hengwm, about a mile to the east of Egryn Abbey, near 
Barmouth, and overlooked by the remains of an immense 
camp known as Pen-y-Ddinas. These are two huge 
cairns, of which the larger is 150 feet long. They lie 
nearly north and south, parallel to, and near each other. 
Originally they contained several cists or chambers sur- 
mounted by capstones. Archaeologists state that nowhere 
throughout Wales or England do there exist any monu- 
ments of the Neolithic Age so striking as these of 
Carneddau Hengwm. The camp on Pen-y-Ddinas was 
the one which afforded shelter to the village settlement 
connected with these carneddau. It commands two old 
routes or trackways running north and south, the one 
between the fortress and the coast, and the other, thought 
to be the older route, running inland towards Corsygedol. 

About two miles to the north is another old camp 
called Craig-y-Ddinas, 1164 feet above sea-level. The 
little stream Ysgethin washes the foot of the hill, and 
Corsygedol is just two miles away in the valley below. 
It is an excellent example of a stone fortress, and occupies 
the entire summit. Immense boulders have entered into 
its construction, and it has an entrance by a sloping 
passage with walls on either side. At the distant end 

7—2 



100 MERIOXETHSHIRE 

from the entrance there are two circular apartments. 
How thickly peopled the neighbourhood was is shown 
not only by the remains of habitations and circles, but 
also by the numerous cromlechs, which, however, are in 
greatly diminished numbers at the present time. 

The cromlechs are usually found in groups in the 
Ardudwy neighbourhood. Sometimes they bear extra- 
ordinary names in the vernacular. The one at Llanfair, 
near Harlech, is known as Coeten Arthur — "Arthur's 
Quoit." Although these ancient bvirial places are in the 
main the product of the Neolithic Age, it is presumed 
that they may have been used for interment by the people 
of the Bronze and perhaps the early Iron Age. In other 
parts of this county we find structures of a similar kind, 
although not so numerous as in the Ardudwy country. 
These are the carneddau on Foel Fynydd Isaf, near 
Dolgelly, and on Cadair Fronwen in the Berwyns ; the 
latter has a huge menhir rising out of it. 

In the east of the county and about a mile to the 
north of Corwen is the famous encampment of Caer 
Drewyn. It commands the vales of Glyn Dyfrdwy and 
Edeyrnion, and exhibits a single vallum, partly wall and 
partly earth, encompassed by a deep fosse. The walls 
appear to have been very wide and show evidences of 
rooms and apartments. Within the camp there are 
foundations of rude circular stone buildings many yards 
in diameter. The compass of the structure is sufficiently 
large to have afforded protection for a whole tribe or 
clan, together with their domestic animals. 

To the north-east of Harlech and scattered about, 



ANTIQUITIES 



101 



within a radius of four miles from the castle, are extensive 
enclosures, more or less perfect, containing clusters of 
circular dwellings. The native folk call them Cytiau'r 
Gwyddelod — " Huts of the Gael." They are marked on 







*. .-;,.rf#^* ^^. 



>#;■'>«' 



Caer Drewyn, near Corwen 

the ordnance map as "Hut Circles" (see p. 6i). These 
hut circles are sometimes said to be relics of the people of 
the Bronze Age. They have been much commented 
upon and spoken of as vestiges of the Gael or Gwyddyl. 



102 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



Archaeologists tell us that there was a primeval fortress 
on the rock upon which Harlech Castle stands. If such 
be the case it possibly formed a refuge in time of danger 
for the inhabitants of these circular dwellings. 

The finds of bronze implements are not numerous in 
this county, but what have been found are very interest- 
ing. In a small mound a little to the north of the Roman 
fort of Tomen-y-Mur a bronze dagger-knife, 2^ inches 
in length, was disinterred some years ago, together with 
a needle of very hard wood 6 inches in length. Both 




Bronze dagger-knife found at Tomen-y-Mur 

were with ashes and burnt bones in a large earthenware 
urn of simple design. Among the other finds have been 
bronze spear-heads and three dagger-blades at Cwm Moch, 
near Bala ; a slender bronze palstave at Beddau Gwyr 
Ardudwy ; a similar bronze palstave and dagger-blade 
at Trawsfynydd ; a massive bronze palstave at Llanfair, 
near Harlech ; a looped palstave and a bronze celt at 
Harlech. All these are in the British Museum. 

Perhaps the most remarkable find of the county is the 
valuable gold torque discovered near Harlech in the seven- 
teenth century, and now in the possession of the Mostyn 



ANTIQUITIES 



103 



family. It is a wreathed rod of gold about four feet 
along the curve ; three spiral furrows with sharp inter- 
vening ridges run along its whole length ; the ends are 
plain and truncated, turning back like pot-hooks. 

The antiquities of Roman times are those chiefly 
associated with the military stations along the lines of 
communication from South Wales and from England. 




Centurial Stones from Tomen-y-Mur 

[Noiv in Harlech Castle) 

There are three of these stations in the county, situated 
at Tomen-y-Mur near Trawsfynydd, at Caergai near the 
head of Bala Lake, and at Pennal near the estuary of 
the Dovey. 

The station at Tomen-y-Mur was reached by several 
roads, comina; from various directions from the north and 



104 MERIONETHSHIRE 

from the south. It is the work of military men, as is 
proved by the nine centurial stones found there bearing 
the names of the commanders. These stones each mea- 
sure I 5 inches in length by 8 inches in height. Six of them 
are at Harlech Castle, two are at Tan-y-Bwlch Hall, and 
one is at iVIaentwrog Church. The broken pieces of 
Samian ware found suggest that the fort was probably 
built during the later years of the first century of the 
Christian era, possibly in the Flavian period (a.d. 70-95). 
The fort is situated on an eminence about half-way 
down the great slope which forms the eastern side of the 
Vale of Festiniog. The land falls from it on all sides, 
and a small feeder of Nant Islyn, a tributary of Nant 
Prysor, flows near its southern angle. It commands an 
extensive view of the whole country, and in shape it is 
rectangular with rounded corners, being 390 feet in length 
by 510 feet in breadth from E. to W. It encloses an area 
of about j\.^ acres. Two gateways, one of them with an 
appropriate guard-chamber, still survive. The whole is 
surrounded by a deep fosse and a vallum in which are 
the remains of Roman masonry built of hard non-local 
stone. 

Within the compass of the fort and in the north- 
west quarter is a great mound of earth, from which the 
station takes its present name. The to//if>i is not Roman 
work, bvit is considered to be the mound of a medieval 
fortification reared either by Norman-English conquerors 
of Wales or by Welshmen copying their fashion. A 
little removed from the fort and near the banks of the 
little stream, there were unearthed the foundations of the 



ANTIQUITIES 105 

bath-house, the invariable accompanying structure of 
every military fortress. 

The fort at Caergai stood on a rounded hillock from 
which the ground falls abruptly on all sides. Its ram- 
parts and ditch enclose a square measuring 140 yards 
each way and having an area of about four acres. The 
finds here comprise bricks, tiles, Samian ware, some blue 
pottery, and coins, and, in the field known as Cae Dentir, 
many coarse grey urns containing human bones and 
ashes. In 1885 there was also discovered an inscribed 
stone, stating that "Julius the son of Gavero, a soldier 
of the first cohort of Nervii, made this." It is known 
that this cohort was in Britain in a.d. 105, and may 
well have formed the garrison here. 

The third Roman fort of the county is at Cefn-Caer, 
close to Pennal church, and near the northern bank of 
the Dovey. It is quadrangular in form and occupies 
the summit of a low hill, which rises gently in the 
middle of a small valley, not far from the water-side. 
When first discovered a pitched way led from the fort 
down to the river. This station is on the line of road 
from Llanio in Cardiganshire to Tomen-y-Mur, round 
Cader Idris, and was known as Sarn Elen in the 
vernacular. Many roads of Roman construction are 
known by this name in Wales. Elen or Helen was the 
name of a British lady of distinction, wife of the Emperor 
Maxim vis. 



106 MERIONETHSHIRE 

i8. Architecture — (a) Ecclesiastical. 
Churches and Abbeys. 

The county of Merioneth is not especially distin- 
guished among the counties of Wales for its great edifices 
in the form of monasteries, abbeys, and cathedrals of 
British and medieval times. It contains no remains of 
the Welsh saints epoch of the sixth century, in the form 
of ancient cor or college, like Bangor-is-y-coed, Llantwit 
Major, or Tygwyn-ar-Daf, the three great seminaries 
of the British period, memorable as the early home 
and missionary centre of primitive Christianity in these 
islands. Neither does it possess an ancient Gothic 
cathedra], like Bangor in Arfon, or St David's in the 
south. But many of its country churches are inter- 
esting, not so much from an architectural standpoint, 
as from their supposed early foundation and association 
with the names of the titular saints to whom they are 
dedicated. 

The various phases of development of architecture in 
our country are conveniently called the Saxon, the Norman 
or Romanesque, the Early English, the Decorated, the 
Perpendicular, the Tudor, and the Renaissance styles, 
and a preliminary word on these various styles of English 
architecture is necessary before we consider the churches 
and other important buildings of our county. 

Pre-Norman or, as it is usually, though with no great 
certainty, termed Saxon building in England, was the 
work of early craftsmen with an imperfect knowledge of 



ARCHITECTURE— ECCLESIASTICAL 107 

stone construction, who commonly used rough rubble 
walls, no buttresses, small semi-circular or triangular 
arches, and square towers with what is termed " long- 
and-short work " at the quoins or corners. It survives 
almost solely in portions of small churches. 

The Norman conquest started a widespread building 
of massive chvuxhes and castles in the continental style 
called Romanesque, which in England has got the name 
of '' Norman." They had walls of great thickness, semi- 
circular vaults, round-headed doors and windows, and 
massive square towers. 

From 1 1 50 to 1200 the building became lighter, the 
arches pointed, and there was perfected the science of 
vaulting, by which the weight is brought upon piers and 
buttresses. This method of building, the "Gothic," 
originated from the endeavour to cover the widest and 
loftiest areas with the greatest economy of stone. The 
first English Gothic, called " Early English," from about 
1 180 to 1250, is characterised by slender piers (commonly 
of marble), lofty pointed vaults, and long, narrow, lancet- 
headed windows. After 1250 the windows became 
broader, divided up, and ornamented by patterns of 
tracery, while in the vault the ribs were multiplied. The 
greatest elegance of English Gothic was reached from 
1260 to 1290, at which date English sculpture was at 
its highest, and art in painting, coloured glass making, 
and general craftmanship at its zenith. 

After 1300 the structure of stone buildings began 
to be overlaid with ornament, the window tracery and 
vault ribs were of intricate patterns, the pinnacles and 



108 MERIONETHSHIRE 

spires loaded with crocket and ornament. This later 
style is known as " Decorated," and came to an end 
with the Black Death, which stopped all building for 
a time. 

With the changed conditions of life the type of 
building changed. With curious uniformity and quick- 
ness the style called "Perpendicular" — -v/hich is unknown 
abroad — developed after 1360 in all parts of England and 
lasted with scarcely any change up to 1520. As its name 
implies, it is characterised by the perpendicular arrange- 
ment of the tracery and panels on walls and in windows, 
and it is also distinguished by the flattened arches and the 
square arrangement of the mouldings over them, by the 
elaborate vault-traceries (especially fan-vaulting), and by 
the use of flat roofs and towers without spires. 

The medieval styles in England ended with the 
dissolution of the monasteries (1530 — 1540), for the 
Reformation checked the building of churches. There 
succeeded the building of manor-houses, in which the 
style called "• Tudor " arose — distinguished by flat-headed 
windows, level ceilings, and panelled rooms. The orna- 
ments of classic style were introduced under the influences 
of Renaissance sculpture and distinguish the "Jacobean " 
style, so called after James I. About this time the 
professional architect arose. Hitherto, building had been 
entirely in the hands of the builder and the craftsman. 

The churches of Merionethshire as a rule are small 
and unpretentious, but some of them contain many features 
which are both interestins: and strikino;. Their dedication 
to the Welsh saints of the sixth century, and possibly the 



ARCHITECTURE— ECCLESIASTICAL 109 

foundation of some of them by these ancient fathers, adds 
lustre to their name. Among these we have Llanelltyd 
dedicated to St Illtyd ; Llangelynin of the supposed founda- 
tion of St Celynin; Llanfor with a double dedication to 
St Mor and St Deiniol; Llandrillo dedicated to St Trillo, 
a companion of Cadvan, an Armorican prince of the sixth 
century; Corwen with a double dedication to St Mael 
and St Sulien, two other saintly companions of Cadfan ; 
Llandderfel, a supposed foundation of Derfel Gadarn a 
son of Emyr Llydaw; Llandanwg dedicated to St Tanwg; 
and Llanddwywe dedicated to St Ddwywe. The above 
churches bear the name of the saints in their designation. 
There are other churches which may have been founded 
by the early saints and are dedicated to them, but are 
called by other names. Among these we have Towyn 
founded by St Cadvan of Armorica, Llanycil founded 
by St Beuno, Llanaber dedicated to St Bodvan with 
a later dedication to the Virgin Mary, Mallwyd dedi- 
cated to St Tydecho, Trawsfynydd to St Madryn, and 
Llanuwchllyn to St Deiniol. The structures of this 
early period were undoubtedly exceedingly plain and 
simple. No stone edifices have survived in any part of 
the county. It seems probable that the first sanctuaries 
were made ot wood and wattled plaitings, and daubed on 
the outside with mud and clay. 

When the British prelates began to conform to Romish 
customs between 800 and 850, we have numerous dedi- 
cations throughout Wales to Michael the Archangel, by 
which the churches were called Llanfihangel. In this 
county we have Llanfihangel-y-Pennant and Llanfihangel- 



1 10 MERIONETHSHIRE 

y-Traethau. Afterwards come the dedications to the 
Virgin Mary ; among such are Talyllyn and Llanfair. 
Lastly followed the dedication to the apostles, chiefly the 
apostle Peter, and All Saints. Such are. Llanbedr and 
Llangar. 




Llanfor Church 

There is very little of Norman work in the county. 
The only church with any striking architecture of this 
style is the one at Towyn, an old cruciform structure. 
The nave is of a very rude description, but it is an excel- 
lent example of very early Norman work. It is divided 



ARCHITECTURE— ECCLESIASTICAL 1 1 1 

from each aisle by three rude semi-circular arches, on low 
round Norman pillars. The clerestory windows, now 
internally closed, are also Norman. Another church with 
specimens of Norman work is Llanaber, which has a 
chancel arch with good mouldings springing from shafts 
with capitals bearing foliage of Romanesque style. In 




Llanaber Church 

Llanegryn church there is a font of Early Norman date 
shaped like a cushion capital. The mode in which the 
upper part of the square exterior is rounded off, so as to 
accommodate it to the circular interior, is remarkable. 
The church of Llanfihangel in the adjoining parish has a 
similar font which, however, is of better workmanship. 



112 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



It is a good Norman specimen, the bowl being square and 
scalloped on its lower edge, while the stem is cylindrical 
on a high square base. At Talyllyn, too, there is an old 
Norman font. 

The Early English style is seen at its best in the 
Llanaber church, a couple of miles to the north of 




Llanegryn Church 

Barmouth. This building, perched above the sea in a 
steep little graveyard, is recognised by authorities as the 
most notable example of Early English in North Wales. 
Though the church is small it has a nave with clerestory, 
side aisles, and chancel of pure Early English work. 
Within the south porch is a beautiful Early Gothic door- 
way, equal to the best of that style found in Wales or 



ARCHITECTURE— ECCLESIASTICAL 1 13 

England. The nave is divided from each aisle by five 
low pointed arches springing from circular pillars, some 
of which have octagonal capitals with foliage. The 
chancel has a single lancet with mouldings at the east 
end, and on the north is a late square-headed window. 
The clerestory of the nave is high and genuine Early 
English with single lancets. At the east end of the 
aisles there are also lancets closed up. 

Many of the churches of Merionethshire have some 
splendid examples of the Perpendicular style. Undoubtedly 
the most striking is that to be seen in Llanegryn church, 
v/hich is situated on a slight elevation in the basin of the 
Dysynni, near Peniarth. Outwardly, it is an unpreten- 
tious structure, but it possesses a remarkable rood-loft, 
considered to be the most beautiful specimen of this 
kind in North Wales. It is a work of the early 
fourteenth century, and is in a perfect state, reaching 
nearly to the roof. It is finished off beautifully by two 
fine vine-leaf cornices. The great tithes of Llanegryn 
parish were in olden times appropriated by the monks of 
Cymmer Abbey, and they are reputed to have built the 
original church, and to have brought the rood-loft here 
from their Abbey. The church of Llandderfel is superior 
in its architectural character to the generality of Welsh 
churches. It is of fair Perpendicular work and perfectly 
uniform, consisting of a lofty single body. Between the 
nave and the chancel is a Perpendicular rood-screen, 
each compartment having foliated arches with enriched 
spandrels. The church of St Cadfan at Towyn has its 
east window of three lights in the Perpendicular style. 

M. M. 8 



114 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



Other churches with Perpendicular work are Llangar, 
Llanfor, Llandrillo, Talyllyn, Llanfair, Llanddwywe, and 
Llandanwg. 

The ruins of monastic establishments are very few, 
the most famous being Cymmer Abbey. We cannot but 
admire the taste of the monks in choosing the most lovely 
spots of our land for their abode. The scenery of the 




Llanfair Church 



Ganllwyd, where the old Cistercians built their abbey, is 
most delightful in its seclusion. This religious house was 
founded in 1 198 by Meredydd and GruflFydd, the grand- 
sons of Owain Gwynedd. The native folk call it by the 
name of Y Vaner, which some authorities interpret as 
Mnn Ner, "The place of God." 



ARCHITECTURE— ECCLESIASTICAL 115 

Its present remains prove it to have been a really fine 
structure, and many features still survive to tell of past 
grandeur. A portion of the conventual church shows at 
its east end three lancet windows, and the large old 
refectory of the abbey, together with some parts of the 
abbot's lodge, form the Vaner farmhouse. 

The charter of its incorporation is dated 1240. Its 




Cymmer Abbey 



numerous clauses include a host of privileges, giving the 
monks authority over rivers, lakes, and seas, all kinds of 
birds, beasts wild and tame, mountains, woods, things 
movable and things immovable, all things upon and under 
the land, with full liberty of digging for hidden treasures, 
and unrestricted mining rights. 

In a short time after its foundation we are told that a 
number of monks came to reside here from Cwmhir 



1 16 MERIONETHSHIRE 

Abbey in Radnorshire. It is, however, a mistake to say 
that it owes its foundation to them, as some authors state. 
Llewelyn ap lorwerth, surnamed "the Great," became its 
patron, and confirmed to it its charter, giving certain 
rights to various lands. Most of the parish of Llanfach- 
reth and the valleys to the north and west were its 
domains. Esgair-gawr belonged to it, as did also the 
parish of Llanegryn. The property of the Abbey re- 
mained in the possession of the Crown for a long time 
after the dissolution of the monasteries, and Queen 
Elizabeth gave it to her favourite, Robert, Earl of 
Leicester. 



19. Architecture — (d) Military. Castles. 

Merionethshire is not rich in medieval fortresses. 
The reason for this is that the Normans, when they 
occupied England and made their inroads into Wales, 
were not able to possess themselves of any part of this 
county for any considerable length of time. In some of 
the Welsh counties, especially in Glamorgan and Mon- 
mouth, there are more than a score of castles of Norman 
origin. The mountainous nature of this county made it 
very difficult for the Normans to build castles to overawe 
the Cymry, but as soon as a Norman baron settled in any 
part of Wales, his first thought was to build himself 
a fortress of stone. He never felt safe within our borders 
unless he had one of these strongholds to protect him 
from the unceasing attacks of the Welsh. 




Sketch Map showing the Chief Castles of 




les and the Border Counties 



ARCHITECTURE— MILITARY 1 1 7 

When William Rufus made his two disastrous in- 
vasions of Gwynedd and was compelled to beat a hasty 
and ignominious retreat upon each occasion, he instructed 
his marcher-lords that they were to build castles in every 
commanding and advantageous situation. But this ap- 
parently did not affect our territory of Merioneth. The 
great period of castle-building in Wales came later, under 
King Stephen, who endeavoured to make good terms with 
his barons by permitting them to erect large fortresses 
wherever they chose. 

The early Norman castle consisted of a lofty and very 
thick wall with towers and bastions, enclosing a wide area. 
Outside the walls there was generally a moat filled with 
water, which was crossed by a drawbridge leading to the 
principal gate, which was strongly defended by covering 
towers. Above the gate there were openings or holes 
through which molten lead, boiling water, or hot pitch 
might be poured down upon the besiegers when they 
succeeded in getting near. The drawbridge was raised 
and lowered by great chains, whilst the gate itself 
was a thick heavy door or a strong iron grille called a 
portcullis. 

Within the walls was the bailey or outer court. 
Here were the stables, the store-houses, and part of the 
dwellings of the garrison or retainers. Within this 
again there was usually another wall protected by towers 
and a gate, leading to the inner bailey or court which 
contained the keep, a square building of great strength, 
in fact the citadel of the castle, the last place of retreat 
in case of need. It consisted of several storeys or floors, 



118 MERIONETHSHIRE 

the ground floor containing no windows. It was provided 
with a deep well for supplying the citadel with water in 
time of siege. 

None of the few castles of Merionethshire are of the 
Early Norman type. Our most famous structure, and 
perhaps the most famous in the whole of the land, is 
Harlech Castle, erected in the thirteenth century. Yet 
Harlech, according to the traditions of this county, goes 
back in its origin to much earlier times. One of its 
towers, known as Twr Bronwen, is a name that carries 
us back to the times of Bran ap Llyr. Some authorities 
say that the first fortress of a military character erected 
here was built by Maelgwn Gwynedd some time in the 
sixth century. In the eleventh century it seems to have 
been known as Caer Collwyn. Collwyn ap Tango was 
lord of Eifionydd, Lleyn, and Ardudwy, and lived in the 
timeof Anarawd, King of Gwynedd, in the ninth century. 
Collwyn resided in a square tower of the original building, 
the remains of which may still be seen, for some of its 
walls form the base of the present structure. 

The castle as it stands to-day is a fine example of the 
Edwardian type, erected immediately after the conquest 
of Wales by Edward the First. It stands on a lofty 
perpendicular rock, the base of which, at the time of its 
erection, was washed by the sea. It was utterly unassail- 
able from the water side, whilst on the land side it was 
protected by a wide and deep fosse cut out ot the solid 
rock. A remarkable feature of the castle is a covered 
staircase cut out of the rock, defended on the seaward 
side by a looped parapet, and closed above and below by 




en 
O 

u 

<L> 
U 

X 



120 MERIONETHSHIRE 

small gatehouses. This was the water-gate of the fortress, 
and opened upon a small quay below. The castle is a 
fine and commanding square structure with a circular 
tower at each angle. The entrance gateway is similar to 
that of Caerphilly Castle. Like the latter, too, it has 
no keep. For natural strength and grandeur of position 
it has no equal in Great Britain. The masonry through- 
out is exceedingly rough, as though hastily executed. It 
appears to have been completed before the year 1283, for 
the records of Edward the First state that Hugh de 
Wlonkeslow was the Constable, with an annual allowance 
of one hundred pounds. 

Margaret of Anjou, the spirited queen of Henry the 
Sixth, found an asylum here after the defeat of her 
husband at the battle of Northampton in 1460. The 
south-east tower for some centuries bore her name. It 
was from here that she went forth with an army of 
Welshmen to the victory of Wakefield. When Edward 
the Fourth ascended the throne after the victory of 
Mortimer's Cross in 1 46 1, in which he was assisted by 
a great host of Welshmen whose sympathies were Yorkist, 
only a very small number of castles continued to resist, 
among which we find Harlech. Dafydd ap Einion was 
the governor, a firm and stedfast ally of the Lancastrian 
party. Sir William ap Thomas, otherwise known as 
Sir William Herbert of Raglan, Earl of Pembroke of the 
second creation, was sent against it, but found himself 
unable to take the castle by storm. He therefore left 
the siege in charge of his brother Richard, to reduce it by 
famine. Starvation did its work, but Dafydd ap Eiin'on 



ARCHITECTURE— MILITARY 



121 



would not yield except upon honourable terms, which 
comprised an unconditional pardon. This was granted, 
but Edward refused to ratify the pardon. "Then sire," 
said Sir Richard, "you may if you please, take my life in 
lieu of the Welsh captain's. I will most assuredly replace 
Dafydd in his castle, and you. Sire, may send whom 
A'ou will to take him out." 




Ruins of the Keep, Bere Castle 



In the Civil War Harlech Castle was held for King 
Charles the First by Sir Hugh Pennant. It fell into 
the hands of General Mytton in March, 1647, and 
it and Raglan Castle in Monmouthshire were the last 
castles in the realm which held out for that ill-fated 
monarch. 

Towering high above the Dysynni river, on a curiously 
detached rock, is an interesting old ruin known as Bere 



122 MERTOXETHSHIRE 

Castle. It is thought to have been erected in the reign of 
Henry the Second. That king's discomfiture in North 
Wales in the year 1157 is said to have prompted the 
erection of this and other similar structures. It retains in 
its ruins some magnificent features of the Early English 
style of architecture, and was undoubtedly a place of 
enormous strength. The existing remains show it to 
have extended over the whole of the summit of the rock, 
and one apartment of it, measuring 36 feet across, is cut 
in the solid rock. In some parts the lines of circum- 
vallation consisted of loose stones piled high up on the 
edges of the precipice. The other sides appear to have 
been well defended by walls of squared stones cemented 
with mortar composed of calcined shells mixed with 
gravel. 

Some authorities state that Edward the First gave the 
custody of Bere Castle to Robert Fitzwalter, with leave 
to hunt all wild animals in the country around Cardigan 
Bay. The castle seems before this to have been in the 
possession of Llewelyn ap GrufFydd, the last prince of 
Wales, and William de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, 
captured it sometime before the fall of the prince near 
Builth. 

The Welsh Chronicles tell us that Uchtryd ap Edwyn 
erected a castle at "Cymmer in Meirionydd" in the year 
1 1 14. Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt, whose residence 
was close by, states in his writings that the castle stood 
on a small hillock called the Pentre, upon which in his 
time there was a flour-mill, a smithy, and several small 
tenements. We know nothing more of this old fortress j 



ARCHITECTURE— MILITARY 1 23 

the name only survives. Its proximity to the famous 
Cymmer Abbey leads one to assume that at a later date 
the monks of the old sanctuary considered its site suitable 
for their abode. It may have fallen into disuse when this 
took place. 

Poised on a spur of the overhanging mountains in the 
valley of the Lliw, a tributary of the upper Dee, is an old 
ruined structure known as Castell Carn Dochan. It is 
now a mere heap of stones, but we are told by reliable 
authorities that it was a pre-Norman structure, a 
stronghold of the princes and chieftains of Penllyn and 
Ardudwy. Close by are the old workings of a gold mine, 
which according to tradition was worked by the Romans 
in the first century of the Christian era, when their 
soldiers were encamped at Caergai in the valley below. 



20. Architecture — (c) Domestic. Famous 
Seats, Manor Houses, Farms, 
Cottages. 

Although Merionethshire does not possess a great 
array of military structures in the form of imposing 
castles and castellated mansions, yet it boasts of a wealth 
of fine old manor houses and stately mansions, which 
came into existence in the period immediately succeeding 
the close of the Wars of the Roses, when the long epoch 
of baronial supremacy came to an end. In the country 
families there arose a new landed class, who were more 
closely associated with the masses of the people in their 



124 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



social life and aspirations, and took a greater interest in 
their general welfare than the old baronial families did. 

Many of the older gentry of the county, of whom 
there are a large number, can trace their pedigree back to 
very remote times; and their ancient domains and home- 
steads have been in the possession of their families for 
many generations. Some of them were devoted and 




The Hengwrt 



careful collectors of our ancient records, and the nation 
owes a deep debt of gratitude to them for the collection 
and preservation of our earliest manuscripts, which rank 
amongst the most treasured records of the British Islands. 
The Hengwrt is an ancient edifice nestling cosily 
in the trees near the ruins of Cymmer Abbey. This 
was the home of the Vaughans, a famous family, and the 



ARCHITECTURE— DOMESTIC 125 

birthplace of Robert Vaughan, the well-known antiquary 
of the seventeenth century. His priceless collection, 
known as the Hengwrt MSS., is probably the most 
interesting and remarkable private collection in Europe. 
It comprises such treasures as " The Black Book of 
Caermarthen," " The Book of Taliesin," " The White 
Book of Rhydderch," the oldest version of the Mabi- 
nogion, " The Sanct Greal," and many others of in- 
estimable value, such as the Hengwrt MS. of " The 
Canterbury Tales." These have been purchased for the 
nation by that great patriot, Sir John Williams, M.D. 

Peniarth, which lies on the north bank of the river 
Dysynni, takes us back in portions of its architecture to 
the fourteenth century, but its main existing parts were 
built in 1700, and were added to in 1 81 2. It was known 
in the earliest times as Maes Peniarth. In the reign of 
Henry the Fifth its owners were of the line of Ednowain 
ap Bradwen, Lord of Merioneth, and through his descen- 
dants in Tudor times it passed to a nephew of Lewis 
Owen, Baron of the Exchequer. Then it descended to 
a branch of the Wynnstay and Bodelwyddan families, 
and finally to the Wynnes, its present owners. The 
famous Hengwrt MSS. were safely housed here after 
their removal from Hengwrt, until their transference to 
the National Library at Aberystwyth. 

Nannau, a seat of the Vaughans, stands at an elevation 
of 700 feet above sea-level, about two miles to the north 
of Dolgelly. The present house is not of later date than 
the closing years of the eighteenth century, but the older 
seat close by, now used as farm-buildings, was built in 



126 MERIONETHSHIRE 

the fourteenth century. Howel Sele, its owner in those 
early days, met with a tragic end at the hands of Owain 
Glyndwr. The story of the fatal fray and the finding of 
Howel's skeleton in the hollow trunk of an oak tree long 
years after, has been told by Sir Walter Scott in his 
Marmion : 

All nations have tlieir omens drear, 
Their legends wild of foe and fear, 
To Cambria look — the peasant see, 
Bethink him of Glendowerdy, 
And shun the 'Spirit's Blasted Tree.'" 

Corsygedol, 5^^ miles north of Barmouth, the ancient 
home and seat of a branch of the Vaughan family, is a 
most interesting homestead of the Elizabethan age. It 
has a gateway designed by Inigo Jones. One of the 
family, Gruffydd Vychan, is famous for the part he took 
in aiding Henry Tudor to reach the throne ; he was 
subsequently squire of the body to the Tudor king. A 
manuscript of Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt says that he 
" was in great credit with Jasper, Earl of Pembroke, who 
lay in his house at Cors y Gedol, when he fled to France 
in the time of Edward the Fourth, and as some report, 
Harry, the Earl of Richmond with him, who afterwards 
was King of England." 

Cwm Bychan is an old mansion of limited archi- 
tectural pretensions, yet it is typical of the buildings so 
dearly-loved by Welsh folk, and is most beautifully 
situated. This was the home of the Llwyds, an ancient 
family of Ardudwy, descendants in a direct line from 
Cyntyn, prince of Powys, who have been the owners 



ARCHITECTURE— DOMESTIC 127 

without a break from Norman times. The house appears 
to have been originally erected sometime in the fifteenth 
century, and is, to-day, an old-world place rebuilt in parts 
about the close of the following century. 

Rug, in the vale of Edeyrnion, is a house of modern 
date. The old mansion, of castellated design, is now in 
ruins ; it occupied a slight elevation not far from the 
present edifice. In its precincts took place the treacherous 
betrayal and capture of GruflFydd ap Cynan in the eleventh 
century. The old castle and domains were the home of 
Owain Brogyntyn, a prince of Powys, of the time of 
Llewelyn the Great. 

Rhiwaedog, near the eastern end of Bala Lake, is the 
famous ancestral home of a long line of Welsh princes. 
In the twelfth century it was the abode of Rhirid Flaidd, 
lord of Penllyn, and at that time was called Neuaddau 
Gleision. The dining-room contains a magnificent 
cornice embodying the arms of Owain Gwynedd, whose 
lineal descendants were then the proprietors. In an 
upstairs room there are escutcheons bearing the arms of 
that prince, and the wolf of Rhirid. The courtyard is 
entered by a covered gatehouse. Above the porch of the 
western wing is the date 1664, but the general features 
of the old manor house are of much earlier date, though 
the eastern wing has been rebuilt within the last 150 
years. 

Plas Rhiwlas, the only castellated mansion in the 
county, has long been the home of the Price family. Its 
grounds have beautiful examples of various kinds of trees 
of great size, and the property is one of the most extensive 



128 



MERIOXETHSHIRE 



in the county. Three miles from Towyn and on the 
right bank of the Meh'ndre stands Dolau Gwyn, a three- 
gabled old mansion, now a farmhouse. It is in the 
Jacobean style, and its walls and ceilings are frescoed 
with armorial bearings. It was long the residence of a 
jvinior branch of the family of Ynys-y-Maengwyn. 




.jnisi.'aa&'i.. "• >■' - -. 



Plas Rhiwlas 



Many other mansions of great repute are to be seen in 
all parts of the county. Some of these have as interesting 
a story as those noticed above, and have their beginnings 
in Tudor times or even earlier. Among them we have 
Plas Tan-y-Bwlch in the valley of the Dwyryd; Dol-y- 
Moch ill the same neighbourhood, with its remarkable 



ARCHITECTURE— DOMESTIC 



129 



escutcheons of the Fifteen Royal Tribes of Gwynedd 
worked in the ceiling of the great hall, and its character- 
istic old-world chimneys; Y Dduallt, the home of the 
Lloyds; Tan-y-Manod; Pengwern, the county residence 
of Baron Newborough ; Plas Dinas Mawddwy ; Rhagatt, 




Old Houses, Dolgelly 

near Corwen, a very old place ; The Hendre near Llwyn- 
gwril, now a farmhouse ; Llanfendigaid near Towyn ; 
Garthyngharad near Arthog, formerly the residence of 
Sir Richard Wyatt; and Hengwrt Uchaf near Drws-y- 
Nant, with its imposing gateway at the entrance to its 
park. 

M. M. 9 



130 MERIOXETHSHIRE 

More or less ancient, but wearing a modern garb, are 
Caerynwch and Dolserau Hall near Dolgelly, the former 
at one time the residence of Baron Richards of the 
Exchequer ; Glanllyn, the county seat of Sir Watkin 
Williams- Wynn of Wynnstay; Pale near Llandderfel, 
visited by Queen Victoria in the time of Sir Henry 
Robertson, M.P., the designer of the Dee Viaduct, and 
many others. 

In the farmhouses a great improvement has set in 
during the past century. More ample accommodation is 
to be found in them for the family and the servants. 
The regular practice of whitewashing the exterior of the 
premises and the outbuildings is commonly resorted to in 
all parts of the county. This gives a clean, but artistically 
unattractive appearance. Farmhouses and cottages are 
alike built of stone and roofed with slate. 

21. Communications — Past and Present. 

Before we deal with the present means of internal 
communication in the county we may turn for a moment 
to consider those of the past. We have seen that the 
mountainous and hilly parts of the county far exceed the 
low-lying districts, and that there is no considerable 
extent of surface which may reasonably be called a plain. 
This has ever been the greatest obstacle to the construc- 
tion of good roads. The initial expense of making them 
was in former times the main insurmountable barrier. 

The primitive Welsh trackways and bridle-paths 
would pass along the declivitous glades of a valley, until 



COMMUNICATIONS 131 

at its furthest limits a mountain barrier confronted them. 
Our modern method would be to skirt the slopes in as 
gentle a gradient as possible. But our forefathers scorned 
such methods ; they would ascend the mountain abruptly, 
almost in step-ladder fashion. The old roads of Scandi- 
navia seem to have been of the same character, and they 
were, perhaps, as well adapted to the then state of society 
as ours are at present. These steep ascents covered a 
retreat in times of invasion or of tribal broils. Good 
roads would have hastened the annihilation of the liberty 
they so highly valued and so strenuously defended. We 
have some striking instances to-day of these sudden passes in 
Bwlch-y-Groes near Llan-y-Mawddwy, Bwlch Oerddrws 
near Dolgelly, and Bwlch Ardudwy above Llanbedr. 
Traces of many others are still with us, but they are not 
used as formerly, and connected with them are the ancient 
British trackways leading over and along the highest 
ridges and elevations. 

The Romans were the first to construct anything in 
the form of a road in the strict interpretation of the term. 
We have referred to this in a previous chapter. There 
was a necessity that all parts of the country should be 
properly linked together by a network of roads, to enable 
the various divisions of the legions to pass from station 
to station as necessity arose. The Roman roads were 
excellently constructed, but after the departure of the 
Romans in the fifth century and the invasion of the 
country by various hordes from every direction, they were 
permitted to lapse into a state of bad repair and perhaps 
disuse. There was probably no attempt to maintain the 

9—2 



132 MERIONETHSHIRE 

roads in this county at any time during the medieval 
period, nor indeed until much later. 

When we arrive at the Tudor period we learn that 
Parliamentary legislation was resorted to in order that 
proper means of communication might be instituted with 
various parts of the county and places on the border. In 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth we are told that the sheriffs 
were instructed to have bridges and causeways made be- 
tween Shrewsbury and the county town. But travelling 
was of necessity difficult then, even in the most favoured 
parts of the kingdom. Macaulay tells us that at the 
close of the reign of Charles the Second travelling was 
exceedingly laborious. Goods and passengers were often 
carried on trains of pack-horses. Six horses were fre- 
quently needed to draw a gentleman's carriage to places 
only a few miles distant from London. What must the 
conditions have been in places so distant as this county ! 
He gives us an example in the journey of a viceroy going 
to Ireland by way of Chester and Holyhead in the year 
1685. The viceroy was five hours travelling from 
St Asaph to Conway a distance of only fourteen miles. 
Between Conway and Beaumaris he was forced to walk 
a great part of the way, and his lady was carried in a 
litter. His coach was, with much difficulty, and by the 
help of many hands, brought after him entire. In general, 
carriages were taken to pieces at Conway, and borne, on 
the shoulders of stout Welsh peasants, to the Menai 
Straits. One chief cause of the badness of the roads 
seems to have been the defective state of the law. Every 
parish was bound to repair the highways which passed 



COMMUNICATIONS 



133 



through it. The peasantry were forced to give their 
gratuitous labour six days in tlie year. If this was not 
sufficient, hired labour was employed, and the expense 
was met by a parochial rate. 

Matters were very little better at the opening of the 
eighteenth century, and for many decades alter this, until 




Old Coach Bridge, Dinas Mawddwy 



the Turnpike Trusts were formed by Act of Parliament. 
The first Act was that of 1758, which affected only a 
very small part of this county. There followed another 
in 1768, entitled an "Act for repairing and widening 
several roads in the counties of Salop, Montgomery, and 
Merioneth." This Act had reference only to the chief 
roads leadina: from the east in continuation of the main 



134 MERIONETHSHIRE 

road from Shropshire. But nearly fifty years after this, 
when the Rev. Walter Davies (Gwallter Mechain) made 
his report to the Government, the roads were in a 
sorry state. He says of North Wales in general that 
there were comparatively but few miles of " travelable 
roads within the whole district. Coal for fuel, and lime 
for manure could not be carried in quantities to any great 
distance." 

The modern improvement in road construction dates 
from the opening years of the latter half of the last 
century. At the present time nothing strikes the tourist 
with greater admiration than the excellent public roads 
now existing in all parts of the county. Some of these 
have been constructed at immense labour and expense. 
The circuitous road of the vale of Mawddach from 
Barmouth to Dolgelly through Bontddu and Llanelltyd 
is a magnificent piece of work. It has been engineered 
with great skill and in some parts of its course it has cost 
as much as two guineas a square yard to make. 

Another road which entailed great expense, bvit is of 
great utility, is that from Pont Aberglaslyn to Penrhyn- 
deudraeth. Before its construction, travellers were obliged 
to skirt the mountain side, or what was equally incon- 
venient and more dangerous, to seek a guide to lead the 
way by the winding route over the Traeth Mawr sands. 
As this was passable only at low tides, it often entailed 
detention for a day or night. The present road, winding 
around an amphitheatre of mountains, is one of the most 
pleasing in the whole of Wales. The main road from 
Barmoutli to join it passes through DyflPryn Ardudwy by 



COMMUNICATIONS 135 

Llanbedr and Harlech along an elevated level, in full 
view of the sea. 

From Dolgelly the main road to Bala and Llangollen 
runs almost parallel with the railway. It passes over 
Drwsynant and crosses the main watershed to descend to 
Llanuwchllyn. It then skirts the Bala Lake and passes 
through the town of Bala, Llandrillo, Corwen, and Glyn 
Dyfrdwy to Llangollen. The county town is connected 
with Festiniog in the north by the steep-gradient road 
which passes through the Ganllwyd and Trawsfynydd, 
to descend into Maentwrog, then ascend again by a 
winding gradient into the slate-quarrying area. Festiniog 
is also connected with the east of the county by the main 
road to Bala, which crosses the Migneint to enter the 
vale of Tryweryn and proceed by Frongoch and Rhiwlas 
to join the Dolgelly and Llangollen road. 

Bala and Dolgelly have each direct communication 
with Dinas Mawddwy. The road from the former skirts 
the southern shores of the lake and then ascends the 
Berwyn mountains at Rhydybont, passing over Bwlch-y- 
Groes pass. The road from Dolgelly crosses the ridge 
after a steep ascent to Bwlch Oerddrws. At Gwanas 
this road branches off to Towyn and Corris, and skirts 
the base of Cader Idris, passing by Tal-y-llyn Lake and 
Abergynolwyn to the seaside resort. There is also a 
road from Dolgelly along the left bank of the Mawddach 
to Penmaenpool, then in a direct line to Arthog, where it 
gradually ascends to Llwyngwril, and proceeds along the 
coast to Towyn and Aberdovey. 

The county is well served by railways both coastwise 



13G MERIONETHSHIRE 

and inland. The coastal district is served by the Cambrian 
Railway. The main line from Montgomeryshire in one 
direction, and Aberystwyth in the other, enters the county 
after leaving Dovey Junction, and proceeds through Aber- 
dovey, Towyn, Llwyngwril, and Barmouth Junction, 
from which it crosses the Mawddach Estuary by the long 
trestle bridge to Barmouth. It proceeds thence along 
the coast through Dyffryn, Harlech, Penrhyndeudraeth, 
MinfFordd, Portmadoc, and Criccieth, to Avonwen and 
Pwllheli. 

At MinfFordd the Festiniog narrow-gauge railway 
meets the Cambrian. It passes through Penrhyn, Tan-y- 
Bwlch, and Tan-y-Grisiau, and terminates at Festiniog. 
The Cambrian connection with Dolgelly leaves Barmouth 
Junction and passes through Arthog and Penmaenpool. 

The Great Western Railway enters the county from 
Ruabon and Llangollen on the east at Berwyn, and thence 
proceeds by Glyndyfrdwy, Carrog, Corwen, Llandrillo, 
and Llandderfel to Bala Junction. It branches there, one 
connection leading through Llanuwchllyn, Drwsynant, 
and Bontnewydd to Dolgelly with running powers to 
Barmouth. The other connection proceeds to Blaenau 
Festiniog through Bala, Frongoch, Arenig, Cwm Prysor, 
Trawsfynydd, Maentwrog, and Manod. This route from 
Bala to Festiniog is probably the wildest and most im- 
pressive stretch of railway travelling in the whole of 
England and Wales. 

The London and North Western Railway enters the 
county in the north, having come from Llandudno 
Junction through Bettws-y-Coed, and passes by a very 




u 

T3 
CO 

o 

c 

<u 

"H 
cri 



3 
O 






138 MERIONETHSHIRE 

long tunnel under the Arenig Fawr to terminate at 
Blaenau Festiniog. The Denbigh, Ruthin, and Corwen 
branch of the same railway enters the county at Derwen 
and passes through Gwyddelwern before arriving at 
Corwen. 

At Towyn a small branch line proceeds to the slate- 
quarries of Abergynolwyn by Rhydyronen, Brynglas, 
and Dolgoch villages. 

Another little branch line of a narrow-gauge descrip- 
tion leaves Machynlleth and communicates with the 
Corris quarries, terminating at Aberllefenni, whilst a 
similar line leaves Cemmaes Road and proceeds up the 
Dovey valley to Dinas Mawddwy. 



22. Administration and Divisions — 
Ancient and Modern. 

In order to understand properly the present adminis- 
tration and government of the county it will be best to 
consider its divisions before the Tudor Period, when it 
was made shire o-round according to English laws. 
Throughout the history of our particular territory we 
find that whenever changes were made in its government 
and administration, great care was exercised in adapting 
them to established customs, so that old institutions were 
not uprooted and supplanted by the new conditions 
introduced. 

Meirionydd under the native princes constituted a 
third part of the territory of Gwynedd, and it was ruled 



ADMINISTRATION AND DIVISIONS 139 

by its prince from Aberffraw. We learn from Sir John 
Price's Description of JVales^ of the reign of Henry VIII, 
prepared in the form of a petition from the Welsh people 
for the purpose of effecting the union of Wales with 
England, that Meirionydd consisted of three cantrevs or 
hundreds having three cwmmwds or commotes in each ; 
these were Cantrev Meirion, Cantrev Penllyn, and 
Cantrev Arwystli. The three commotes of Meirion 
were Talybont, Pennal, and Ystumaner ; of Penllyn, 
Uwch-meloch, Is-meloch, and Migneint ; of Arwystli, 
Uwchcoed, Iscoed, and Garthrynion. 

The cantrev or hundred was the division of a country 
next in size to a shire, and has been generally recognised 
to mean, although perhaps not in a strict sense, one 
hundred free families. When we look at the great 
disparity in size of some of the hundreds, we naturally 
conclude that the term cantrev was not always limited 
to the same definite number, but meant a group, or 
assemblage of trevs. 

The trev signified the family, not exactly in the 
sense that it was limited to the immediate bond of 
relationship of parent and child, but a clan or assemblage 
of blood-kindred, who associated themselves with the 
head of the family. The cant-trev or hundred was thus a 
joint family, and implied a common descent and brother- 
hood of its members. Every separate cantrev had its 
own hereditary head or leader. The land of the cantrev 
belonged to the whole family in common, and was 
partitioned among the males to the fourth generation, 
but no one could transfer or sell his rights without first 



140 MERIONETHSHIRE 

obtaining the sanction of the whole family. The son 
was not compelled to wait till his father died ere he 
obtained land ; he received his portion as soon as he 
attained to man's estate. 

The division into cantrevs and cwmmwds is of very 
early origin, and the limits of each appear to have been 
well-established and generally recognised in the tenth 
century, when Howel Dda compiled his famous code of 
laws and collected his catalogue of Welsh customs. 

The Cantrev of Meirionydd was first known as 
Cantrev Orddwy, tliat is, the Hundred of the Ordovices. 
When, however, the Gaels were driven out by the men 
of Cunedda, it was called the territory of Meirion, after 
the northern chieftain's grandson. The limits of this 
hundred were the tidal estuary of the Dovey on the 
south, and the main water-parting of the county on the 
north. Its religious and ecclesiastical centre was at 
Towyn, in the notable church founded by St Cadvan in 
the sixth century, the mother church of the hundred. 
Its commotes of Ystumaner and Talybont were separated 
by the river Dysynni. These names are suggestive of 
two ancient strongholds of the lords of Meirionydd. 
Ystumaner has its fortified rock of Castell-y-Bere which 
ultimately was crowned with a medieval castle. Talybont 
near the village of Llanegryn has its ancient primitive 
mound, while the annals of the county tell us of a castle 
of Cymmer. We have thus the temporal strongholds and 
the spiritual retreat within the compass of the territory. 

The Cantrev of Penllyn is encompassed on all sides 
by high and rugged mountains, with Llyn Tegid at its 



ADMINISTRATION AND DIVISIONS 141 

centre. The old home of Llywarch Hen, the veteran 
warrior and princely poet of the seventh century, stands 
here. He held his court on the mound near Llanfor 
church which still bears his name. King Arthur of 
legend and romance is reputed to have lived on the lake- 
side at Caergai, which appears to have given the domain 
its name of Penllyn, although in later times Y Bala 
(" The Outlet ") was the site of the chief stronghold of 
the cantrev. Arwystli, the cantrev of the head waters 
of the Severn, is not now a part of our county. 

The county is now divided into the five hundreds 
of Ardudwy, Penllyn, Ystumaner, Talybont, and 
Edeyrnion. By the Act of 1536, Arwystli was annexed 
to Montgomeryshire, whilst the commotes of Edeyrnion 
and Glyndyfrdwy were taken from Powys and annexed to 
Meirionydd, and the independent and lawless lordship 
of Mawddwy was similarly attached. 

In English law every hundred was divided into 
townships, or, as they are now called, parishes. Every 
township was privileged to ha\e its own local assembly 
or parliament, where every freeman had a right to appear, 
and in which they appointed their own officers to carry 
out the laws. The whole country was divided into 
parishes as early as the reign of Edward III. In addition 
to the courts of the shire and hundred, there were courts 
of the manor presided over by the "Lord of the Manor." 
These courts were known as court-leets, where the lord 
met his tenants, and arranged all matters which pertained 
to the manor, such as the holding of fairs and markets, 
and the privilege of common rights. This court continues 



142 MERIONETHSHIRE 

to be held in most counties once a year, but it is kept 
up mainly because of its antiquity. 

The manors of olden times may be said to correspond 
in a measure with the ecclesiastical parishes, of which 
we have 43 situated wholly or in part within the ancient 
geographical county of Merioneth. The parishes vary 
very much in size, number of houses, and population. 
Some are large and some are very small. The two 
largest parishes in the county are Llanfor and Traws- 
fynydd with over 30,000 acres in each ; the three next 
in point of size are Dolgelly, Llanuwchllyn, and Llanycil 
with over 20,000 acres in each. The smallest parish of 
the county is LlansantfFraid-Glyn-Dyfrdwy, which has 
only 670 acres. 

In the administrative county there are 39 civil parishes, 
which are grouped together for the care of the poor into 
five Poor Law Unions, over each of which there is a 
Board of Guardians. The workhouses are at Bala, Cor- 
wen, Dolgelly, and Penrhyndeudraeth, where the destitute 
and incapable are given employment and cared for. 

The Act of 1888 brought into existence the County 
Councils, whose powers cover the county as a whole. 
The County Council levies rates and borrows money 
for public works subject to the sanction of the Local 
Government Board. It is responsible for the whole 
administrative business of the county, such as carrying 
into effect the laws passed by Parliament, keeping roads 
and bridges in good repair, managing lunatic asylums 
and reformatories, and exercising control over Education, 
both elementary and secondary ; while in conjunction 



ADMINISTRATION AND DIVISIONS 143 

with the Quarter Sessions it manages the police affairs, and 
appoints coroners and officers to look after the health of the 
community. The Merionethshire County Council, which 
meets in rotation at Dolgelly, Bala and Festiniog, consists 
of 57 members, of whom 43, called councillors, are elected 
every three years by ratepayers of the county, while 14, 
called aldermen, are elected or co-opted by the councillors 
for a period of six years. 

In 1894 was passed the Parish and District Councils 
Act, which confers upon parishioners a good deal of 
power in the management of local affairs. There are 
31 Parish Councils in this county, and six Town and 
Urban District Councils located at Bala, Barmouth, 
Dolgelly, Festiniog, Mallwyd, and Towyn, together with 
five Rural District Councils at Deudraeth, Dolgelly, 
Edeyrnion, Penllyn, and Pennal. 

For the administration of justice the county is in the 
North Wales and Chester Judicial Circuit, the Assizes 
being held at Dolgelly twice a year. The county is 
very free from crime and the judges on circuit are often 
presented with white gloves. It has one court of 
Quarter Sessions held at Bala and Dolgelly four times 
a year, while Petty Sessions presided over by local justices 
of the peace are held at six centres, namely at Dolgelly 
for the petty sessional division of Talybont; at Bala for 
the division of Penllyn ; at Towyn for the division of 
Ystumaner ; at Corwen for the division of Edeyrnion ; 
at Blaenau Festiniog for the division of Ardudwy-uwch- 
Artro ; and at Barmouth for the division of Ardudwy-is- 
Artro. The police force consists of a Chief Constable, 



144 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



one superintendent, two inspectors, five sergeants, and 
25 constables, making a force of 34 men, with its head 
office at Dolgelly, 

The chief person in the county in an official capacity 
is the Lord Lieutenant, who in virtue of his office 
occupies a similar position to the ealdorman of former 
times. He is the personal representative of the Sovereign, 




Dolgelly 



who appoints him, and is either a nobleman or a large 
land-owner. He remains in office for life. 

The next official of the greatest importance is the 
Hi2;h Sheriff, who corresponds to the ancient shire-reeve 
of earlier times. His appointment is an annual one, 
made on " the morrow of St Martin's Day," that is, 
November 12th, by the King. The Sheriff holds office 



ADMINISTRATION AND DIVISIONS 145 

for a twelve-month only, and it entails upon him very 
great expense. His main duty is legal, and he usually 
appoints an Under Sheriff, who may be a solicitor or a 
person well-versed in the law. The Sheriff has to make 
all the necessary arrangements for his Majesty's Justices 
of Assize when they visit the county to try the cases sent 
to them from the Quarter Sessions. 

The parliamentary representation of Merionethshire 
is limited to one member. The county has no parlia- 
mentary nor municipal borough. 

In ecclesiastical matters the county comprises 43 
parishes, and is included in part in the diocese of Bangor, 
and in part in that of St Asaph. 

The market towns are Dolgelly and Corwen. 



23. The Roll of Honour of the County. 

Of the Merionethshire men who have reached high 
positions as statesmen and lawyers we have Baron Lewis 
Owen, a native of Dolgelly. He occupied the important 
office of Vice-Chamberlain and Baron of the Exchequer 
of North Wales in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, 
and Mary. He was member for the county in the par- 
liaments of 1547, 1552, and 1554, and was High Sheriff in 
1546, and in 1555 — the year he was murdered. Colonel 
John Jones of Maesygarnedd, the Regicide, played an 
important part in the great civil war of the seventeenth 
century. He held high office under Commonwealth rule, 
being one of the Lord Justices of Ireland. He married a 

M. M. 1° 



146 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



sister of Oliver Cromwell, and was made by the Protector 
a member of the House of Lords. Baron Richard 
Richards of Caerynwch became Baron of the Exchequer 
in 1 814, and Lord Chief Baron three years later. His 
eldest son Richard was one of the Masters in Ordinary 




Thomas Edward Ellis 



of the High Court of Chancery, and M.P. for the county 
at the time of his father's death. Sir John Williams, 
Solicitor-General in the Parliament of 1830, became a 
Baron of the Exchequer and won high repute as a criminal 
judge. Thomas Edward Ellis of Cynlas, the son of a 



THE ROLL OF HONOUR 147 

humble farmer, by sheer ability and force of character 
became one of the most potent influences in the political 
life of Wales in the closing years of the last century. 
He represented his native county in Parliament for some 
years, and at the time of his death was Chief Whip in 
Lord Rosebery's government. 

During the continental wars ot the eighteenth century 
General Henry Lloyd, the son of a clergyman, greatly 
distinguished himself. He served in the Russo-Turkish 
war of 1774, vvon great renown at the battle of Silistria, 
and later was entrusted with the command of thirty 
thousand men in the war with Sweden. He wrote 
several works on military matters, in addition to his 
well-known History of the Seven I'ears'' IVar. 

In the dark days of the seventeenth century no name 
stands out more clearly than that of Morgan Llwyd of 
Gwynedd, of the family of Cynfael. He laboured with 
great zeal on behalf of Free Church principles. His 
famous Llyfr y Tri Aderyti is a Welsh classic. An- 
other eminent Nonconformist preacher of this period was 
Hugh Owen of Bronyclydwr, the grandson of John Lewis 
Owen of Llwyn near Dolgelly, M.P. for the county. 
The great theologian and divine of the seventeenth 
century, Dr John Owen, was of the same Merioneth- 
shire stock as Hugh Owen. He was an attached friend 
to Cromwell, and was Vice-Chancellor of the University 
of Oxford. 

The comity is justly proud of Thomas Charles, who, 
though of Caermarthenshire birth, did his life-work at 
Bala. He was the founder of the Welsh Sabbath School 

10 — 2 



148 MERIONETHSHIRE 

movement, an organisation which has made the Welsh 
the best versed of any people in the scriptures. The 
world-famous "British and Foreign Bible Society" was 
established by his influence and inspiration. His grand- 
daughter was married to Dr Lewis Edwards, who 
together with his brother-in-law, David Charles, founded 
the Bala Calvinistic Methodist College in 1837. His 
son, Dr Thomas Charles Edwards, the first Principal of 
Aberystwyth University College, was born at Bala. 
The influence of father and son upon the educational 
life of Wales cannot be estimated. David Charles, after 
five years co-operation with his brother-in-law, was invited 
to start Trevecca College upon the same lines as Bala, 
and acted as its principal for 20 years. Simon Lloyd, 
of Plasyndre, Bala, worked with Thomas Charles in the 
early Methodist movement, and after the death of Charles 
edited two volumes of I' Drysorfa. 

In the ranks of great churchmen there stand forth the 
names of Ellis Wynne of Lasynys, "Y Bardd Cwcs," as 
he is familiarly called, and Edmund Prys, famous for his 
metrical version of the Psalms. Dr William Lloyd of 
Llangower was chaplain to Charles II. He was made 
Bishop of Llandaff" in 1675, was translated to Peter- 
borough in 1679, and thence to Norwich in 1685. 
Dr Humphrey Humphreys, a native of Penrhyndeudraeth, 
became Bishop of Bangor in 1689, and was translated 
to Hereford in 1701. Dr John Thomas, a native of 
Dolgelly, was the son of very poor parents. He 
showed early genius and was educated at the Merchant 
Taylors' School and Cambridge University by his father's 



THE ROLL OF HONOUR 149 

employer. He went abroad and became chaplain to the 
English factory at Hamburg. In 1743 he was made 
Bishop of St Asaph, but before being consecrated he was 
translated to Lincoln. Li 1761 he was again translated, 
this time to Salisbury. David Lloyd, born at Trawsfy- 
nydd in 1635, became reader of the Chapter-house. He 
was canon of St Asaph and chaplain to the bishop, and 
author of several interesting works, his best known being 
Statesmen and Favourites of England since the Reformation. 
John Ellis, D.D., Archdeacon of Meirionydd, was a 
learned antiquary and collaborated with Browne Willis 
in collecting material for the latter's survey of the diocese 
of Bangor. Griffith Hughes, a native of Towyn, became 
rector of St Lucie's, Barbados. He is best known as a 
naturalist; his Natural History of Barbados is a valuable 
work, for which he was elected a Fellow of the Royal 
Society in 1750. William Wynne, of Maesyneuadd, was 
an excellent Welsh poet. His poems are refined and 
classical. Several of these may be seen in a little work 
published in 1759, and entitled Dewisol Ganiadau yr Oes 
hon. Evan Lloyd, one of the Garrick circle of literary 
men, was born at Frondderw near Bala, and became vicar 
of Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd. He possessed great poetic 
abilities. His best known poems are The Power of the 
Pen., The Curate., and The Methodist. His satirical 
allusion to a neighbouring squire, in The Methodist., 
brought him into trouble, and he was imprisoned in 
the King's Bench at the same period as the famous 
John Wilkes, who wrote the verses now inscribed on 
his tombstone in Llanycil church. John Jones, better 



1 50 MERIONETHSHIRE 

known by his bardic name of " loan Tegid," a native 
of Bala, became Vicar of Nevern and prebendary of St 
David's Cathedral. His scholarly knowledge of his native 
tongue made him one of the greatest authorities of his 
time in Welsh orthography. 

Conspicuous among Nonconformist preachers we have 
Robert Thomas, " Ap Vychan," a native of Llanuwchllyn, 
who was Professor of Theology at Bala. Roger Edwards 
a native of Bala was the author of T Tri Brawd a 
religious novel, and Editor of T Drysorfa and Traethodydd. 
Richard Humphreys of DyfFryn was one of the most 
famous of Methodist divines, and his grandson Richard 
Humphreys Morgan is noteworthy as the adapter of 
Pitman's system of shorthand to the Welsh language. 
Finally, Evan Jones, " leuan Gwynedd," will live long in 
the affection of his countrymen for his patriotic labovirs. 

The Welsh nation will ever be under a deep debt of 
obligation to Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt, the great 
scholar and antiquary, born in 1592, for his unrivalled 
private collection of Welsh MSS. already referred to. 
The copies transcribed by him were made more valuable 
by his own scholarly notes and copious annotations. He 
died at Hengwrt in 1666. Rowland Vaughan of Caergai, 
who was High Sherift of the county in 1643, helonged to 
an equally ancient branch of the Vaughan family as did 
the squire of Hengwrt. He did much to improve the 
social condition of his poorer countrymen, translating 
many excellent works into the vernacular, which he 
published at his own cost and distributed among the 
poor. Vaughan suffered for his devotion to King Charles 



THE ROLL OF HONOUR 



151 



by having his mansion at Caergai burnt to the ground in 
1645 by the Parliamentary forces. Dr Wilh'am Owen 
Pughe, the lexicographer, was a native of Llanfihangel-y- 
Pennant, and his son Aneurin Owen, who held important 
offices under the Government, was the author of the 
well-known work entitled The Ancient Laws and Insti- 
tutes of J Vales. The county is deservedly proud of John 




Tyn-y-Bryn 

{Birthplace of I Villi am Ozveii Pughe) 

Griffiths, " Y Gohebydd," who was a native of Barmouth. 
He was the London correspondent of the Baner ac Am- 
serau Cymru., and aided Sir Hugh Owen in the establish- 
ment of British schools in all parts of Wales. 

Among poets and bards we have Llywelyn Goch ap 
Meurig of Nannau, who flourished in the fourteenth 



152 MERIONETHSHIRE 

century. Six of his poems are printed in the Myvyrian 
Archaeology^ and his elegy was written by lolo Goch, the 
bard of Owain Glyndwr. Sion Phylip of Ardudwy and 
WiUiam his brother were eminent poets. The former 
died in 1620, and the latter in 1669. William suffered 
cruel treatment on account of his Royalist leanings, and 
his property was confiscated by the Commonwealth. 
David Richards, better known as " Dafydd lonawr," the 
author of Cywydd y Drlndod^ was a native of Towyn. 
John Phillips, " Tegidon," was born at Llanycil, and 
Rice Jones, the compiler of Gorchestion y Be'irdd^ was a 
native of Blaenau Festiniog. Hugh Jones, "Maesglasau," 
Hugh Derfel Hughes, David Ellis, compiler of T Piser 
Hiry and Edward Hughes, " Y Dryw," as well as many 
others, swell the roll. Among the younger men there 
is one who will ever hold an honoured place — Robert 
Owen of Tai Croesion, who died when only 27 in Aus- 
tralia in 1885. His poems are among the most pathetic 
and touching in the language. 

Among musicians there are Edward Jones, " Bardd y 
Brenin," a native of Llandderfel, who filled the post of 
bard and harpist to the Prince of Wales in 1774, and 
Edward Stephens, " Tanymarian," a native of Fes- 
tiniog, and the author of the oratorio, The Storm of 
Tiberias. 

Among distinguished men in the medical profession 
we have Gruffydd Owen, a native of Dolgelly, who 
emigrated to America in the early years of the eighteenth 
century, and was the first physician of the newly-formed 
State of Pennsylvania. Professor Alfred William Hughes 



THE ROLL OF HONOUR 153 

of Corris ranks among the most famous of Welsh surgeons. 
He was for a time at the head of the School of Anatomy 
at the University College of Cardiff, which he relinquished 
to become professor of Anatomy at the London Univer- 
sity. During the last great war in South Africa, he went 
out as a surgeon to organise the Welsh Hospital for the 
troops, and died there of fever. His memory has been 
perpetuated by the erection of a national memorial at 
his native place. 

Merionethshire may well be proud of Edward Ed- 
wards, the marine zoologist and inventor of aquaria for 
the preservation of fish. He was a native of Corwen, 
and in 1864 was led to study the habits of fish in 
their native element among the fissures and rocks of 
the Menai Straits; and step by step he perfected an 
invention for keeping fish in health in confinement. 
The principle of his tank has been adopted in all aquaria 
in our country as well as on the Continent and in 
America. 



24. THE CHIEF TOWNS AND VILLAGES 
OF MERIONETHSHIRE. 

(The tiyuies in brackets after each name give the population of 
the parisli in 191 i, from the ofHcial returns, and those at 
the end of eacli paragraph are references to the pages in the 
text.) 

Aberdovey (1466) is a small seaport on the Dovey estuary. 
It exports slates from Corris and Aberllefenni to the extent of 
nearly 5000 tons annually. It lias considerable coasting trade 
and a regular conuuunication with Ireland. Much fishing is 
done in the estuary. There is a station on the Cambrian 
Railway. Direct communication is made with Borth on the 
opposite coast by means of a ferry which serves at high tide. 
Its golf links enjoy a national reputation, and the mildness and 
salubrity of its climate render it a favourite resort at all seasons 
of the year. (pp. 8, 45, 5^, 65, 79» 80, 82, 90, 135, 136.) 

AbergYnolwyn is a village seven miles inland north-east 
of Towyn, with whicli communication is maintained by a little 
narrow-gauge railway. The main occupation of the people is 
slate-quarrying. The village lies partly in the parish of Tal-y- 
llyn and partly in that of Llanfihangel-y-Pennant. (pp. 35, 71, 
135. 138.) 

Aberllefenni is a village in the Corris quarry district. It 
stands on a feeder of the Dulas river, and is charmingly situated 
in a secluded glen, being sheltered on the north by Mynydd 
Ceiswyn, an offshoot of the Cader Idris ridge. It is reached 
by the Corris narrow-gauge railway from Machynlleth, which 
terminates here. (pp. 35, 71, 138.) 



CHIEF TOA\^S AND VILLAGES 155 

Arthog is a small village near the Mawddach mouth, and 
only a very short distance from Barmouth Junction. The 
Dolgelly branch of the Cambrian Railway has a station here. 
Near the village is the fine mansion of Garthyngharad, formerly 
tiie residence of the Wyatts. (pp. 46, 71, 129, 135, 136.) 

Bala (1537) a small town and the iiead of a Poor Law Union 
district is situated at the north-east end of Llyn Tegid. The 
Great Western Railway has a station here on its Ruabon and 
Festiniog branch line. It is a seat of Petty Sessions, and the 
Quarter Sessions are held here in April and October. The 
place is a great resort of anglers and toiu'ists. Flannel manu- 
facture and brewing are the chief industries; in former times it 
was the centre of a great trade in stockings and socks. The 
Calvinistic Methodist Theological College stands on rising ground 
a little outside the town. Until recent years there was an 
Independent College here also, but this has been transferred to 
Bangor. In front of Capel Tegid there stands a fine monument 
to Thomas Charles, the founder of Sunday Schools. It possesses, 
too, a fine bronze statue of the late T. E. Ellis, M.P. "The 
Green " an open space near the railway station is celebrated in 
poetry and song for its great religious assemblies. The "Tomen 
y Bala" is an ancient artificial mound. Tlie whole neighbourhood 
is rich in historical and traditional lore. (pp. 18, 23, 34, 36, 42, 
54, 78, 127, 136, 143.) 

Barmouth (2106), on the northern side of tlie Mawddach 
estuary, is a fashionable watering place. By the Welsh it is 
called Abermaw. The Cambrian Railway has a station here. 
The line is carried across the broad estuary by a long timber- 
trestle bridge 800 yards in length, which also has a gangway 
for foot passengers from Arthog and Barmouth Junction. Its 
prosperity depends upon the visitors and tourists. It has a fine 
stretch of sandy beach, and the conmianding views from the 
high ground behind the town are very fine. The town is 



156 MERIONETHSHIRE 

governed by an Urban District Council. It possesses a Secondary 
School under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. (pp. 17, 
34, 46, 56, 65, 70, 76, 99, 112, 134, 136, 141, 143.) 

BettwS-Gwerfil-Goch (232) is a hamlet and a parish 
three miles west of Gwyddelwern station on the L. and N. W. 
Railway, and six miles north-west of Corwen. The district 
is purely rural. At Bottegir, now a farmhouse, lived the famous 
Colonel Salisbury, familiarly known as '''' Hosannau Gleision," 
"Blue Stockings," the sturdy Royalist Governor of Denbigh 
Castle, who defended it against the Parliamentary torces tor 
fourteen weeks. 

Bontddu is a small village beautifully situated half-way 
between Barmouth and Dolgelly. The Clogau gold mines in 
the woody dell which divides the village in two, give employ- 
ment to many hands, (pp. 21, 75, 76, 134.) 

Brithdir is a small village three and a halt miles to the 
north-west of Dolgelly, Bontnewydd is its nearest railway station, 
(p. 52.) 

Corris (1079) on the Dulas, a tributary of the Dovey, is a 
village and a township in Tal-y-llyn parish. It lies six miles to 
the north-east of Machynlleth. The great majority of the men 
are engaged in the slate-quarries, where slate of an excellent 
quality is obtained, (pp. 35, 70.) 

CorNA^en (2856) is a market town and a parish on the Dee, 
some ten miles to the west of the town of Llangollen. It has a 
station at the junction of the Llangollen and Bala branch of tiie 
G. W. R. with the Chester, Denbigh, and Ruthin branch of the 
L. and N. W. R. The town is the head of a Poor Law Union 
and County Court District, and also a seat of Petty Sessions. 
Slate is quarried in the neighbourhood and there are a few small 
flannel factories which give employment to many hands. It is a 
(juiet old-fashioned town and is nuich freiiuentcd by anglers. 



CHIEF TOWNS AND VILLAGES 15/ 



The church is of ancient date and contains a monument to 
lorvverth ap Sulien; in the churchyard tiiere is an eighth century 
cross. Rug mansion near by, a seat of the Wynne family, 
contains a knife and a dagger said to have been the property 
of Owain Glyndwr. (pp. 36, 42, 54, 70, 92, 98, 129, 136, 13S, 



142, 14;; 



t45-) 




Corwen 

DinaS Mawddwy at the terminus ot the Mawddwy 
narrow-gauge railway from Cemmaes Road on the Cambrian 
Railway was at one time an important corporate town, but is 
now a decayed village. It is ten miles south-east of Dolgelly. 
Formerly it was one of the five independent lordships of Wales, 
and was not united to the county of Merioneth until the reign 
of Henry VIII, when it bore a very ill name. Some of its 
ruffians cruelly murdered the Baron Lewis Owen because he had 
condemned eit^htyof their confreres to suffer the extreme penalty 
of the law for various crimes in 1554. The spot in the woods 



158 MERIONETHSHIRE 

of Mawddwy where he was murdered when returning from the 
Montgomery Sessions in 1555 is still known as Llydiart-y-Barwn. 
A court leet is still held there twice a year. Some slate-quarrying 
is carried on, and it is famous for its wild and romantic scenery. 
(PP- 23, 36, 76, 77, f^i, 96, 97, 138.) 

Dolgelly (2160) is a market and county town on tlie 
Wnion. It is the head of a County Court division. The 
Cambrian and G. W. Railways run into the town, and it is a 
convenient centre for tourists and anglers. It has a manufactory 
of flannels and coarse woollen cloths; tanning and currying are 
also carried on here. Two weekly papers are printed and 
published in the town — T Goleuad and T Dydd. A path 
leads from the town to the sunnnit of Cader Idris. The sur- 
rounding scenery is extremely varied and beautiful. An ancient 
house called Cwrt Plas-yn-dre stood here till lately, associated 
traditionally with Owain Glyndwr, an interesting specimen of 
sixteenth century architecture. In 1404 Glyndwr dated his 
letter from the town, when he entered into an alliance with the 
King of France against Henry IV. The Dolgelly Grammar 
School is an anciently endowed foundation which has turned 
out several men of note. Dr Williams's Endowed School is a 
famous school for girls, and the County School under the Welsh 
Intermediate Education Act gives abundant opportunities for 
secondary education, (pp. 18, 25, 27, 35, 37, 42, 70, 77, 92, 93, 
100, 125, 130, 131, 134, 135, 136, 142, 143, 144, 145.) 

DyffrYn is a straggling village near the coast about five 
miles to the north of Barmouth. Passengers by train alight at 
the little station when they intend to proceed to Drws Ardudwy 
and the Roman Steps, (pp. 48, 136, 150.) 

Festiniog (9682) is a large slate-cpiarrying area, having 
many industrial villages, of which the chief are Llan, Blaenau, 
Conglywal, Rhiw, Manod, and Tan-y-Grisiau. It has an Urban 
District Council. The G. W. R. and I., and N. W. R. have 



CHIEF TOWNS AND VILLAGES 159 

comiminications with the place, as well as the Toy Railway trom 
Portmadoc. The place has many chapels, churches, elementary 
and secondary schools, (pp. 27, 35, 70, 72, 82, 136, 143.) 

Gwyddelwern (711) is a village and a parish near the 
borders of Denbighshire, and about two and a half miles north 
of Corwen. It has a station on the Corwen and Denbigh branch 
of the L. and N. W. Railway. 

Harlech is an ancient little place, ten miles to the 
north of Barmouth. It was at one time the coimty town, and 
enjoys the unique privilege of being a free borough, whatever 
that may mean, since the reign of Edward I. The Cambrian 
Railway has a station here. Its renowned castle gives the place 
its significance, for it has played important parts in the history 
of our land from very early times. The Harlech golf links are 
now considered among the best in Wales, (pp. 34, 48, 76, 80, 
95, 96, loi, 102, 104, 118, 120, 121, 136.) 

Llanbedr (320) is a pretty little village and a parish on 
the river Artro, two miles south of Harlech. It has a station on 
the Cambrian Railway, and is one of the best fishing stations in 
tlie county. It is a centre for visitors exploring the Ardudwy 
country, (pp. 21, 48, 76, 80, iio, 131.) 

Lilandderfel (785) is a parish and a township on the 
river Dee, four miles to the east of Bala. It has a station on 
the G. W. R. The Dee in its meanderings by the village 
proceeds through charming scenery. The church of Derfel 
Gadarn is an interesting structure, containing some curious relics, 
among which is a wooden crosier, (pp. i 8, 43, 52, i 13, 130, i ^d-) 

Llandrillo (591) a village and a parish five miles to the 
south-west of Corwen. It has a station on the G. W. R. Slate 
is quarried in the neighbourhood. The village is the starting 
point for visiting the waterfall known as Pistyll Rhaiadr, and for 
the ascent ot the Berwyns. (pp. 18, 109, 114, 136.) 



160 MERIONETHSHIRE 

Llanegryn (560) is a village and a parisli along the 
southern bank of the Dysynni river. The village is situated 
some two and a half miles from the coast. The township of 
Peniarth is comprised in the confines of the parish, (pp. 23, 
III, 113, 116, 140.) 

Llanelltyd (450) is a parish and a small village on the 
upper Mawddach two miles distant from Dolgelly. Cymmer 
Abbey and the Hengwrt mansion are in the neighbourhood. 
(pp. 20, 82, 109.) 

Llanfachreth (711) is the name of a parish, and a 
village situated three and a half miles to the north-east of 
Dolgelly. It is almost at the source of the Mawddach. It 
contains the famous old mansion of Nannau. At one time it 
was noted for its mineral resources, (pp. 17, 76, 116.) 

Llanfihangel-y-Pennant (457) is a parish, and a 
small village situated about seven miles to the north-east of 
Towyn. The village is on the Dysynni. The church is ancient 
and has a rare specimen of a leper window. Castell-y-Bere lies 
in the parish, (pp. 23, 109, iii.) 

Llanfrothen (861) is the name of a parish in the reaches 
of the Traeth Mawr. The village is about one mile from 
Penrhyndeudraeth. 

Llangar (572) is a parish on the Dee; the township is at 
the influx of the Ahven into the Dee. It is one and a half miles 
to the south-west of Corwen. (pp. iio, 114.) 

Llansantffraid-Glyn-Dyfrdwy (170) is a small parish 
and a village situated on the Dee, two miles to the east of Corwen. 
Its nearest station is Carrog on tlie G. W. R. The chief residence 
is Rhagatt. (pp. 19, 142.) 

Llanuwchllyn (1007) is a large parisli at the western end 
of Bala Lake. It contains many old mansions and places of great 



CHIEF TOWNS AXD VILLAGES 161 

interest connected with the history and antiquities of the county. 
The village has a station on tlie G. W. R. (pp. i8, 76, 109, 136, 

142.) 

Llanycil (904) a hamlet and a parish on the shores of" 
Bala Lake. In its churchyard there lie buried many famous 
men, among whom are Thomas Charles, Dr Lewis Edwards, 
Professor John Peters and Dr Hugh Williams, (pp. 109, 142.) 

Llan-y-Mawddwy (323) is a parish at the head of the 
upper waters of the Dovey, under tiie Aran Mawddwy mountain. 
The village is peopled in the main by slate-quarrying folk. A 
retired spot called Gwely Tydecho close to the roadside is said 
to be the retreat of the saint of that name. (pp. 23, 131.) 

Llwyngwril is a pretty little village in Llangelynin parish 
situated near the coast, six and a half miles to the north of 
Towyn. It has a station on tlie Cambrian Railway. There 
are many ancient remains in the neighbourhood, the chief being 
Castell y Gaer close to the village. It has an interesting old 
burial ground belonging to the Quakers; the date 1646 is 
inscribed on the entrance gate. The village is becoming a 
favourite resort of visitors during tiie simimer months. Just 
two miles to the north is Y Friog, a small village contiguous to 
the new health resort of Fairbourne. (pp. 46, 129, 135.) 

Maentwrog (652) is a charming place, and a parish in 
the Dwyryd valley. The Sarn Helen of the Romans traverses 
the parish. The village is ten miles to the north-east of Harlech. 
It has taken its name from a monumental stone of great size 
erected to the memory of Twrog, son of Cadvan, a sixth century 
saint. Archdeacon Edmund Prys was rector of the parish, and 
his body has been buried in tlie church. Here he translated the 
Psalms into the Metrical Version, (pp. 22, 35, 104.) 

Mallwyd (757) is a village and a parish lying partly in this 
county and partly in Montgomeryshire. The village stands on 
the river Dovey in the midst of beautiful mountain scenery. It 
iM. M. I I 



162 MERIONETHSHIRE 

is a favourite resort of anglers and artists. The church is an 
ancient building made famous by its vicar Dr John Davies, the 
eminent scholar and antiquary, (pp. 109, 143.) 

Pennal (430) a village and a parish on the Sarn Helen 
lies four miles to the west of Machynlleth. By some authorities 
this place is identified with the Maglona of the Romans. In the 
grounds of Talgarth Park stands a huge mound or tomen which 
has yielded many Roman coins to excavators, (pp. 103, 105.) 

Penrhyndeudraeth (1988) is a pleasantly situated village 
at the head of the Traeth Bach. It is served by the Cambrian 
and the Festiniog Toy Railway. The men who live Iiere are 
mostly engaged in the quarries of Festiniog. On the northern 
side of the Traeth standing in its own lovely grounds is the 
modern castellated mansion of Deudraeth, the seat of the Lord 
Lieutenant of the County, (pp. 49, 134, 136, 142, i43-) 

Towyn (3929) is a pleasant seaside town with fine sands and 
promenade. The Cambrian railway passes through the place 
and it liolds communication with the slate quarrying district of 
Abergynolwyn by means of a narrow-gauge railway. Its church 
is of ancient foundation. The town is provided with a Secondary 
School under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. (pp. 45, 56, 
65. 67, 76, 79> 80, 81, 109, no, 113, 128, 135, 138, 140, 143.) 

Trawsfynydd is a quarrymen's village situated in an 
elevated area on the Afon Prysor, about five miles south of 
Festiniog, and eleven miles to the north of Dolgelly. The Bala 
and Festiniog section of the G. W. R. passes near to the village, 
and the Sarn Helen leads through it from the south on its way 
to Tomen-y-Mur, some two miles further north. The neighbour- 
hood has many ancient remains in the form of encampments, 
tumuli, stone circles, etc. Great eiforts at gold-mining have 
been made at various times in the neighbourhood. The lakes 
of the parish abound in fish and are famous for excellent sport. 
(PP- 23, 27, 89, 102, 109, 142.) 



DIAGRAMS 



163 



England & Wales 
37.337-537 acres 



Wales 

4,778,182 

acres 



Merioneth 



Fig. I, Area of Merionethshire (422,372 acres) compared 
with that of England and of Wales 



England & Wales 
36,070,492 



Wales 
2,025,202 



Menptiethr' 



Fig. 2. Population of Merionethshire (45,565) compared 
with that of England and of Wales in igii 



164 



MERIONETHSHIRE 



« o • • 



9 « • 9 



tec*' o*tt090 
aaaeooooo«« 

• •«•••••••• 



Merionethshire, 69 



Wales, 2-1 



Ghimorganshire, i^Sz 




England and Wales, 618 
(Each dot represfuis ten persons) 
Fig. 3. Comparative Density of Population per square mile 
in Merionethshire, Wales, England and Wales, and 
Glamorganshire in 1911 




Fig. 4. Proportionate area under Corn Crops in 
Merionethshire in 1912 



DIAGRAMS 



165 




Fig. 5. Proportionate areas of chief Cereals in 
Merionethshire in i>ji2 



Other Crops, Fruit aiid^ 
Bare Fallow 3,353 acres 




Clover, Sainfoin & Rotation 
\Grasses 10,526 acres 



cres 



Fig. 6. Proportionate areas of land in Merionethshire 

in igi2 



166 



MERIONETHSHIRE 




Fig. 7. Proportionate numbers of Live-stock in 
Merionethshire in 1912 



CAMBRIDGE: PRINTED BY JOHN CLAY, M.A. AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 



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